Arbitration Agreements

Earlier today, District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, granted a temporary restraining order that temporarily prohibits the state of California from enforcing AB 51, a law that would prohibit companies in California from requiring arbitration agreements as a condition of employment.  
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On December 6, 2019, a coalition of both national and state business organizations and trade associations filed a Complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.  The lawsuit seeks both a preliminary and permanent injunction against implementation and enforcement of the recently enacted California law that makes it unlawful for California employers to require employees to sign arbitration agreements, under certain circumstances.
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Last week, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Michigan granted Domino’s Pizza, Inc.’s motion to dismiss, holding that workers operating under the Domino’s brand must arbitrate their claims that the pizza chain made its franchises promise not to hire each other’s employees, then misled the public to believe no such agreement existed.
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The First Appellate District’s recent decision in Subcontracting Concepts, LLC v. DeMelo, A152205 (April 10, 2019) applies well-established unconscionability principles to an arbitration agreement signed by an employee of an independent contractor. The doctrine of unconscionability refers to an absence of meaningful choice with respect to the terms of a contract, usually the result of unequal bargaining power between the parties.
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Each year, the California Chamber of Commerce identifies proposed state legislation that the Chamber believes “will decimate economic and job growth in California.”  The Chamber refers to these bills as “Job Killers.” In March, the Chamber identified the first two Job Killers of 2019: AB 51 and SB 1.
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