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Appeals Court Blocks California Bar on Mandatory Arbitration for Workers

On February 15, 2023, a federal appeals court blocked a California law that prohibited employers from requiring their workers to resolve legal disputes in private arbitration.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a 2-1 decision held that the law cannot be enforced because it conflicts with federal arbitration law. This ruling hands an important victory to business groups and employers across the state.

The 9th Circuit panel in 2021 upheld the law 2-1, but later agreed to reconsider the decision. One of the three judges was persuaded to reverse his prior ruling in this revised order, which revived a ruling by a lower court against the law. The case is U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. Bonta, 9th Cir., No. 20-15291, 2/15/2023.

In light of this important and helpful Court of Appeals decision, employers across the state should consider revising their arbitration agreement to take out any language that permits the employee to decide whether or not they wish to enter into it.

JMBM’s Labor and Employment attorneys counsel businesses and management on workplace issues, helping to establish policies that address problems and reduce job-related lawsuits. We act quickly to resolve claims and aggressively defend our clients in all federal and state courts, before the Department of Labor, the NLRB, and other federal, state and local agencies, as well as in private arbitration forums. We represent employers in collective bargaining negotiations and arbitration.

This update is provided to our clients, business associates and friends for informational purposes only. Legal advice should be based on your specific situation and provided by a qualified attorney.