Far Far Away
California has always been protective of its citizens. However, with the ever increasing mobility of employees, some employers will insert a “choice of law” provision into employment contracts, either for convenience of the employer or for favorable (pro-employer) “forum shopping.” Either way, as of January 1, 2017, California employees cannot be dragged into a foreign court quite so easily to litigate employment claims.
California Labor Code Section 925
California Senate Bill SB-1241 provides that after January 1, 2017, an employer would be prohibited from requiring an employee who primarily resides and works in California, as a condition of employment, to agree to a provision that would require the employee to adjudicate outside of California a claim arising in California or deprive the employee of the substantive protection of California law with respect to a controversy arising in California. The bill would make any provision of a contract that violates these prohibitions voidable, upon request of the employee, and would require a dispute over a voided provision to be adjudicated in California under California law. The bill would specify that injunctive relief is available and would authorize a court to award reasonable attorney’s fees. The bill would provide that adjudication includes litigation and arbitration for purposes of these provisions. The bill would except from these provisions a contract with an employee who was represented by legal counsel, as specified.
Read the text of the law here: SB-1241 Employment contracts: adjudication: choice of law and forum.
Two notes: 1. the award of attorney’s fees is a huge hammer for the employee; and 2. the protection will not apply if the employee is represented by counsel when signing the contract.