It is now illegal in the state to require employees to sign agreements waiving their rights under the Ralph Civil Rights Act (Civil Code 51.7) and the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act (Civil Code 52.1). Those civil rights laws prohibit hate violence and threats against citizens based on certain protected classes, such as political affiliation, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability or medical condition, or on account of position in a labor dispute.
The recently enacted AB 2617 prohibits contracts, mandatory arbitration agreements and pre-litigation settlement agreements that require waiving those protections. The law also prohibits requiring a waiver of the right to file and pursue a civil action or complaint with the state Attorney General or any public prosecutor, law enforcement agency, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing or any other governmental entity.
Practical tip: This new law imposes limits on pre-dispute arbitration agreements and pre-litigation settlement agreements, as they may apply to the two civil rights acts. Federal law may pre-empt some portions of AB2617.
Consult your attorney when crafting arbitration agreements to ensure they comply with all applicable laws.