9. My employer asks me to sign an arbitration agreement that waives my right to bring a class action. Is that legal? Alexander J.S. Colvin is Martin F. Scheinman Professor of Conflict Resolution and Partner Dean for Academic Affairs, Diversity, and Faculty Development at ILR School Cornell University. His research and teaching focuses on resolving labour disputes, with a particular focus on non-unionized employment procedures and the impact of the legal environment on organizations. Taking each of these elements into account in the development of arbitration agreements will strengthen the fairness and perspective of the implementation of the agreement. What can be learned from this decision is that the California Supreme Court continues to support mandatory conciliation of labour disputes, whether based on the treaty or by unlawful facts (discrimination, harassment and other violations that are not owed to a contract). However, for the arbitration agreement to be applicable, the agreed procedure must be fair and impartial and not “shock” the conscience of the Court of Review because of its significant procedural restrictions and obstacles. The agreement must continue to allow workers to justify their rights in a fair and impartial forum. Mandatory work reconciliation is very different from the work reconciliation system used to resolve disputes between unions and management in unionized jobs.
Labour arbitration is a bilateral system conducted jointly by unions and management, while mandatory arbitration procedures are developed unilaterally and imposed on workers by employers. While labour arbitration deals with the application of a contract negotiated privately between a union and an employer, the mandatory arbitration procedure concerns the labour laws defined in the statutes. Research has found that employees are less likely to obtain arbitration and receive less damages in mandatory labour arbitration than in the courts. Employers have a considerable advantage in the process because they define mandatory arbitration procedures and select arbitrators.3 Many claims of discrimination and other employment claims are difficult, if not impossible to prove, without obtaining information from the employer. This may include information about you – the illegitimate employee – and other employees.