Employment Arbitration in California
Below are some of the important things that you need to know about the arbitration of employment disputes in California.
- Arbitration is an out-of-court hearing of a dispute, which is heard and ruled on by an arbitrator - an experienced attorney or a former judge. Generally, this process is quicker and more simple than filing and handling a case in court.
- One of the main reasons that more and more companies have their employees sign employment arbitration agreements, is because unlike with jury trials, the chances of an arbitrator hitting the employer with a significant emotional distress or punitive damages award in a case are much lower. It's the jury of "regular" people who are known to react emotionally and to show more compassion toward a claimant, which translated into larger awards, and this is far less likely to happen with the arbitrator - a former judge or a seasoned attorney. This difference may or may not come into play, depending on the facts of a particular case.
- Not all arbitration agreements are valid. In fact a whole body of law has been developed that can help determine whether any given arbitration agreement is actually valid and enforceable. The so called Armendariz case is still the leading case on determining the validity of employment arbitration agreements.
- Arbitration is a private proceeding. The employer shall pay all the arbitration costs except the initial filing fee, that both parties pay just as as they would in court.
- Arbitration awards are almost impossible to appeal, even if the arbitrator commits a clear mistake. Therefore, it's really, really worth making sure that you choose an arbitrator who is known (1) not to be biased toward the employers; and (2) actually knows employment law and doesn't have to learn the basics to just prepare for your case.