Lauren Teukolsky was featured in an article in the Daily Journal on Friday, October 25, 2019 entitled, "Plaintiffs' attorneys flood employers with arbitration cases." Ms. Teukolsky described an effective strategy that she has pursued to vindicate her clients' workplace rights when they have signed forced arbitration agreements giving up their right to bring class action claims in court with other workers who have similar claims. Ms. Teukolsky was quoted in the article saying, "This strategy was born out of necessity. . . It wasn't like we [developed] it in some back room. It was, 'How do I continue to enforce the labor code and protect my client's interests in the face of arbitration agreements that contain class action waivers?' And this was really the only option."
The strategy involves filing an action in court for penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), one of the only remaining claims that employees can file in court despite an arbitration agreement, along with filing individual arbitration actions on behalf of several employees. Ms. Teukolsky described bringing a case on behalf of 57 clients, each of whom filed an individual arbitration claim. After winning the first four arbitrations, the entire case resolved.
Employers are required to foot the bill for all employment arbitrations in California, so this "swarm arbitration" strategy can be enormously expensive for employers - much more expensive than a streamlined class action case. It remains to be seen whether employers will continue to require their employees to sign arbitration agreements with class action waivers in light of the risk of a swarm arbitration.
If you believe that your rights under the Labor Code have been violated, get in touch with Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation. This includes being misclassified as an independent contractor, not getting proper breaks, and not being paid for all of the hours you have worked.
Lauren Teukolsky has received a "Client Choice Award" from Avvo, a website that provides ratings and reviews of attorneys throughout the United States. The "Client Choice Award" is reserved for attorneys who receive at least five 4-star reviews from clients in a given year. Ms. Teukolsky also has a perfect "10" rating on Avvo, a rating reserved for attorneys who are deemed "Superb."
Ms. Teukolsky handles all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees. Contact us today for a free consultation.
In recent years, California lawmakers have taken on sexual harassment and assault with a series of changes to state law. In the wake of revelations about how institutions and companies keep sexual misconduct and abuse under wraps—from the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal to Harvey Weinstein—the California legislature has largely taken confidentiality agreements surrounding sexual misconduct off the negotiating table. The legal developments aim to shed light on sexual harassment and violence by preserving the ability of victims to speak about their experiences, despite a settlement. Here is what you need to know:
1) California law prohibits confidentiality in settlement agreements in civil cases where the underlying conduct could be criminally charged as a felony sex offense. The prohibition applies not only to cases related to workplace sexual assault, but to all civil cases. Sexual conduct that could prosecuted as a felony includes (among other acts): rape, and sexual assault where the perpetrator used violence, restrained the victim, or fraudulently deceived the victim into believing the touching was for a professional purpose.
Where the conduct you allege rises to the level of felony sexual assault, your attorney could be subject to professional discipline by the California State Bar for demanding confidentiality or advising you to agree to confidentiality in a settlement agreement.
2) California law limits provisions in settlement agreements that prevent disclosure of allegations related to sexual harassment, sexual assault, sex-based discrimination, and retaliation. If you have filed a complaint in court or with an administrative agency (such as California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing), the company cannot require you, as a condition of settling your claims, to stay silent about the facts described in your complaint.
An exception may be made where the survivor of sexual harassment wishes to maintain the confidentiality of their identity. At the survivor’s request, the settlement agreement can shield the survivor’s identity and facts that could lead to discovery of her identity. It is also permissible for settlement agreements to require the parties’ confidentiality about the dollar figure of the settlement.
If you have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment or sexual assault in the workplace, contact us today for a free consultation.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.