There are three possible outcomes of refusing to sign an arbitration agreement.
In 2018, the Supreme Court issued a controversial decision that strongly favored employers over employees. That decision found that requiring employees to agree to arbitration agreements that included waivers of their right to participate in class action lawsuits, was not a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The case further found that these agreements are fully enforceable under the law.
In the wake of this decision, more employers are requiring employees to sign agreements that would force them to participate in arbitration and to give up their right to join class action lawsuits. As a California employment attorney can explain, class action claims are important, because they allow groups of people who are affected by a similar pattern of behavior to file a lawsuit together.
For example, if an employer had a policy of rarely — if ever — promoting women, female employees could band together to file a class action lawsuit. It may be difficult to prove this type of discrimination on an individual basis, but when filed as a group, it is often easier to demonstrate that a pattern exists. That is why employers would prefer to settle claims through individual arbitration — a form of alternative dispute resolution where they often have the advantage, and where it is less likely that a sole employee can show a pattern of behavior.
Despite the 2018 Supreme Court ruling, California has discouraged companies from asking employees to sign arbitration agreements with class action waivers. This raises the question of whether employees can — or should — refuse to sign an arbitration agreement if presented with one by their employer.
According to a California employment attorney, there are three possible options if you refuse to sign an arbitration agreement. First, your employer may simply terminate your employment. While this may not be an option if you are a particularly valuable employee or if many of your co-workers also refuse to sign the arbitration agreement, you should be aware that it is a possibility. Depending on the facts of the case, you may have a claim against your employer if he or she fires you for refusing to sign an arbitration agreement.
Second, your employer may try to convince you to sign the agreement, and may even offer you an incentive to sign it. If you still refuse to sign the agreement, then he or she may choose to terminate your employment, or take the third option: do nothing.
Third, your employer may not take any action against you if you do not sign the arbitration agreement. This type of agreement is not enforceable unless you sign it. If you refuse to sign, it is possible that your employer will do nothing in response.
The decision about whether to sign an arbitration agreement can be a difficult one, and often is made after talking with coworkers about what others plan to do. An experienced California employment attorney can help you understand your options and give you advice on a proposed arbitration agreement.
At PLBSH, we represent employees across a broad range of matters. If you have experienced injustice in the workplace, we are here to help. Contact our firm today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more, or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.