Your workplace should be a safe environment, free of discrimination, sexual harassment, and anything else that may make you feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, is not always the case. Sexual harassment is far too prevalent now in the workplace. You see it on the news or read about it almost daily. Companies have been catching on and are now trying to prevent you from suing them. They’ve become smarter and have got around obstacles. Sexual harassment is defined by the EEOC as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” This definition isn’t all inclusive. There was a new law proposed in California that may be able to help victims of sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment has been very prevalent in the news lately. As of recently, the California legislature has approved a new law that will be able to help sexual harassment survivors sue their employers. Governor Jerry Brown has proposed the bill that would outlaw practices used in business to prevent employers from suing for sexual harassment claims. The bill, AB3080, would prohibit businesses from making employees sign a arbitration agreement. This is important because arbitration agreements can include clauses such as waiving your right to sue the company for sexual harassment, discrimination, or anything they may choose to include. This is a very big deal because arbitration agreements are typical business practice.
The biggest challenge for this process is that this new law cannot invalidate arbitration agreements. The Supreme Court still states that arbitration agreements are legal. In order to avoid that, the bill will make it illegal to retaliate or revoke a job offer if the arbitration agreement is not signed. There’s some controversy among the business world when it comes to this. Business groups criticize the bill and hope for a veto of this law. It could potentially violate federal law.
Although companies will not admit it, research shows that arbitration agreements are mainly used to keep claims from coming to court. Arbitration hearings tend to be different than regular court hearings as they are not open to the public and there is no jury. Workers claims tend to get more symphony of the jury resulting in greater amounts of damages awarded to the victims of sexual harassment. Bringing a suit to court also allows for the negotiations of settlements. Another idea was proposed by Senator Richard Blumenthal. He made the proposal to prevent companies from forcing their employees and/or consumers from having to take their claims to arbitration. The bill he proposed is the Arbitration Fairness Act. Essentially, it would let employees and consumers decide where to pursue their legal claims, making arbitration not the only option.
It’s unfortunate that many people fall victim to sexual harassment in the workplace. When they go to investigate, they realize they cannot make a claim due to the arbitration agreement they signed. It’s not fair. This new bill could mean a big change in the business world. It’s important to know that if you’re experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, you are not alone. Matthew A. Kaufman who is Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney has been dealing with cases like yours since 1993. Contact the Los Angeles Employment Attorney at the Kaufman Law Firm for a free initial consultation using this contact form . Or you can give us a call at our local number 818-990-1999.