Ever since the #MeToo movement, several states around the country have been changing their employment policies to give victims of terrible management a better fighting chance. California is looking to follow suit with the bill, AB 3080, which would ban any forced confidential agreement the employer has you sign to cover up any sexual harassment or wage law violations.
Recently, the California Legislature chose to pass this along with SB 820, which prevents nondisclosure agreements in settlements that would conceal the culprit’s name from the public. As the bills now only have to go through Governor Jerry Brown to become legal, it is important to know what these could do for California employers that face sexual harassment.
Silent no more
Many companies have implemented forced arbitration into their employment agreements to have more benefits on their side there than in a courtroom. It is private, fast, often less expensive and only has one person that judges the severity of the crime rather than a whole jury. Arbitration verdicts often go in the employer’s favor because there are no juries that tend to be more sympathetic towards employees and less requests for evidence. They are also much more difficult to appeal than a court decision. Even employees who get money out of the case often get less here than in a courtroom.
These contracts make it especially difficult for those looking to settle a sexual harassment claim, as they would get less than they actually deserve and would have a harder time spreading their warning to those who still work for the potentially dangerous employer. Many employers over the decade have gotten away with their mismanagement and harassment thanks to these mandatory agreements, but the bills passed by the California Legislature hope to prevent the further silence of mistreated workers.
The fight’s not over
While the California Legislature approving the bill can be seen as a good sign for many employees, it will not go into effect until the governor signs it. Some are mixed about the potential bill and the effect it will have, while others believe that the Supreme Court siding with arbitration earlier this year could affect the governor’s decision. Regardless if the governor signs it or not, the legislature passing does demonstrate the effort that California lawmakers are placing to prevent further sexual harassment in the work force.
If you have any questions about your employment contract or arbitrations for a potential case, you should seek professional assistance to find out what rights you have if your employer creates an unhealthy and dangerous work environment.