By:  Kritika Thukral


Mandatory arbitration agreements are a source of contention in employment law. However, since 2000, they are generally permissible in California. In response, the California Legislature has made repeated efforts to ban such agreements over the years. In the past, many such bills have passed both the state assembly and the state senate and have ended up on the Governor’s desk. However, none of the bills have been enacted into law. Nevertheless, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez from San Diego has introduced Assembly Bill 51 (AB 51) in the current legislative session. This bill is nearly identical to the previous vetoed measures to make mandatory arbitration agreements illegal.

Current Status of AB 51

As of April 10, 2019, AB 51 has been referred to the California Assembly Appropriations Committee and has been placed on the suspense file. If the file is in suspense, it means the bill will be held in appropriations for further review (i.e., to determine whether the bill is worth the cost). Then, appropriations will have a hearing at some point to determine whether it comes off suspense, goes out of appropriations, and onto the assembly floor for a vote.

Likelihood of Passage

Much like the predecessor bills, AB 51 may end up on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. However, it is too soon to tell whether or not Governor Newsom will conform to his predecessors on this issue. Stay tuned.