We’ve been blogging about attacks on workplace arbitration for over ten years now. (See, for example, this October 2009 post.) AB 51 represents the latest attempts by plaintiffs’ attorneys to ensure that their clients have continued access to employee-friendly juries, rather than to arbitrators with experience understanding and applying the relevant law. We’ve written about what the law says, the economic motives behind the attacks on arbitration, and about how the law affects employers’ decision whether to implement or continue arbitration programs.
Throughout these discussions, we noted that the bill is of questionable legality. On December 6, 2019, a consortium of employer groups including the US Chamber of Commerce and the California Chamber of Commerce filed suit in the Eastern District of California to block the bill from taking effect. You can read the complaint here. Federal law protects arbitration agreements against attempts by courts and judges to weaken their protections. The suit argues, convincingly I think, that this latest effort contravenes federal law and that the law should be struck down.
We’ll continue to keep you posted as the story develops.
UPDATE: The employer groups bringing the suit have filed for a temporary restraining order.
UPDATE #2: As of December 30, 2019, a federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking the law from taking effect on January 1, 2020.
UPDATE #3: On January 10, 2020, the court further enjoined the measure from taking effect.