California employers are not alone as they wrestle with AB 51’s January 1, 2020 new law on mandatory arbitration agreements. (For background on AB 51 see our article). On December 6, 2019, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations filed suit against the State of California to have AB 51 declared preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Alternatively, the lawsuit seeks a declaration that AB 51’s express FAA carve out provision, which protects arbitration agreements otherwise valid under the FAA, applies to both enforcement and formation. The case is filed in the Eastern District of California as Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Becerra, Case No. 2:19-cv-2456 KJM DB.

What happens next? The lawsuit seeks both a preliminary and permanent injunction. The motion for preliminary injunction has already been filed and is set for hearing on January 10, 2020. If the court grants the motion for preliminary injunction, AB 51 will be placed on hold and employers will be spared from its enforcement during the lifetime of the preliminary injunction and until the case can be decided on the merits. Stay tuned here for updates. Jackson Lewis will continue to monitor all developments.