During the process of joining a new employer, you may sign several different contracts and documents. While many of these simply put you in the company’s system, some are agreements that can affect your legal rights while at work.

California recently outlawed forced arbitration, a common agreement in employment contracts. But a judge ruling has temporarily halted the law from taking effect. As employer groups fight the bill, California companies can still require new employees to agree to the practice.

Arbitration keeps employee complaints private

If you have signed an arbitration agreement, you are unable to bring any legal complaints against your employer to a court. Instead, you sit down with representatives from your company and a third-party arbitrator. This person acts as a private judge for your complaints and can make a ruling.

Since nothing goes to court, arbitration remains confidential. Companies can avoid the fallout from a public discrimination or harassment trial. Instead, they settle the matter privately. And employees with complaints often cannot discuss what happened during arbitration. Some people critical of the practice say that this covers up discrimination and harassment issues.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the bill

A law that was to go into effect on January 1, 2020, would ban the practice of forced arbitration. Employers could still offer it, but employees would have the option to file an official complaint with local and federal agencies and pursue a claim in court.

But after many employer groups filed to overturn the bill, a federal judge has temporarily blocked it. The judge said that the business advocates have enough of a complaint that their case should be heard before the law goes into effect.

A ban on forced arbitration gives you more options for pursuing complaints

When arbitration is an option, you can use it if you want to bring forth a claim discreetly. But if you don’t want to let a company continue to allow discriminatory practices, you may wish to file public charges.

Depending on how the court rules on the new law, you may still have the chance to take your case to a judge.