Assembly Committee Passes Job Killer Bill

The first job killer bill identified by the California Chamber of Commerce this year passed an Assembly committee this week.

AB 51 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) prohibits arbitration of labor and employment claims as a condition of employment.

Repeat Bill

The bill is virtually identical to 2018 legislation, AB 3080 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego), which was vetoed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. because he recognized that the measure plainly violated federal law. The bill also is similar to AB 465 (R. Hernández; D-West Covina), which was vetoed in 2015.

AB 51 is a job killer due to the significant increased costs employers will face as a result of more litigation and the expense of delayed dispute resolutions.

Federal Preemption

In addition, it is well understood that if signed into law, the proposal would be preempted by federal law. Both the California Court of Appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court have specifically held that state legislation trying to ban arbitration agreements is preempted by federal law.

In fact, AB 51’s limitation on the ability to form an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s opinion in Kindred Nursing Centers Ltd. Partnership v. Clark that federal law protects and preempts state law regarding both the formation of arbitration agreements, as well as the enforcement of arbitration agreements.

AB 51 also proposes to add a new private right of action under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and exposes employers to criminal liability for any violation.

Key Vote

AB 51 passed the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on March 6, 5-1.

Ayes: Bonta (D-Oakland), Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Kalra (D-San Jose), Rivas (D-Arleta).

No: Flora (R-Ripon).

Not voting: Diep (R-Westminster).

2019 Job Killers

Track the current status of the job killer bills on or follow @CalChamber and @CAJobKillers on Twitter.

Staff Contact: Jennifer Barrera

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Jennifer Barrera took over as president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce on October 1, 2021. She has been part of the CalChamber team since 2010 and stepped into the top position after serving as CalChamber executive vice president, overseeing the development and implementation of policy and strategy for the organization, as well as representing the CalChamber on legal reform issues. Barrera is well-known for her success rate with the CalChamber’s annual list of job killer legislation, efforts to reform the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and leadership working with employers on critical issues, including most recently those arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, she advises the business compliance activities of the CalChamber on interpreting changes in employment law. Barrera earned a B.A. in English from California State University, Bakersfield, and a J.D. with high honors from California Western School of Law. See full bio