Many employees never even bother to read the employee handbook. That’s understandable. They are long, boring, and mostly full of lawyery language that makes the average joe want to shoot himself. I get it.
Well, many California employers have employee handbooks (as they should), and many of them include within the handbook an arbitration clause. What is arbitration and why should the employee care? According to the American Arbitration Association:
Arbitration is the submission of a dispute to one or more impartial persons for a final and binding decision, known as an “award.” Awards are made in writing and are generally final and binding on the parties in the case.
Arbitration basically is an alternative to filing a lawsuit in court. There are many advantages and disadvantages to arbitration. But I’m not writing here to talk about that. What I’m interested in, is whether or not they are enforceable. Meaning, if you sue your boss for sexual harassment, discrimination, or some other employment claim, can you employer force you into arbitration to take your claim out of the court system?