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Some see proposed law as way of subverting employee rights

If an employee experiences difficulties on the job or with terms of that employment, a conversation with the boss or with human resources can often resolve the problem. However, every worker has the right to consider litigation if employee rights appear to have been violated. While most California workers still have this right, employees in another state may face limitations on their right to seek legal recourse through the civil justice system.

The Senate in this state recently passed a bill that severely restricts an employee's right to take a dispute to the court system. It would require most workers to submit to arbitration when there is a conflict that cannot be worked out between the boss and the employee. The stated reason behind this effort is to reduce the strain on the state's court system. The state's House of Representatives is currently working on its own version of this legislation. This bill stipulates that the arbitrator will determine if the case is subject to arbitration, whereas the courts make that determination at the present time.

Many businesses have publicly expressed support for this measure as it is touted as a means of reducing conflict, saving time and cutting expenses. However, many labor unions and workers' rights advocates are concerned that the proposed law will erode workers' rights to fair treatment. At this point, it is feared that employers will ensure that arbitrators who are biased toward the employer will be chosen to settle most disputes.

It is estimated that approximately 25 percent of employees are already required to sign arbitration agreements before they are hired. This fact, along with laws that would also require disputes to be handled outside of the courts, may work to chip away at employee rights. At issue is whether they will be able to achieve unbiased resolutions to employment disputes. California workers who are experiencing difficulties in resolving serious workplace disputes do have the right to consult with an employment law attorney to assist them in seeking a fair and timely resolution.

Source: missourinet.com, "Business and labor groups view Missouri arbitration legislation differently", Alex Derosier, March 1, 2017

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