Most people don’t realize it, but a major battle is taking place between the United States Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court concerning class actions. I recently wrote (starting on pg. 4) about this battle, along with my former colleague, Robert Rodriquez, soon after my significant briefing in a class action matter that immediately followed the now infamous AT&T Mobility decision.

It is a battle that has been taking place for several years. The dispute is over the issue of whether and to what extent the Federal Arbitration Act preempts state laws that invalidate class action waivers as void against public policy. I have a lot of experience litigating class action matters in both the consumer protection and franchisee context. I can say that the outcome of the Court’s decision will have a huge impact in the employment context.

There are two cases that are presently pending before the California Supreme Court. The following are the case summaries:

Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Co. LLC, S199119. (B228027; 201 Cal.App.4th 74; Los Angeles County Superior Court; BC433634.) Petition for review after the Court of Appeal affirmed an order denying a petition to compel arbitration. This case includes the following issue: Does the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. § 2), as interpreted in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (2011) 563 U.S. __ [131 S. Ct. 1740, 179 L.Ed.2d 742], preempt state law rules invalidating mandatory arbitration provisions in a consumer contract as procedurally and substantively unconscionable?

Sonic-Calabasas A, Inc. v. Moreno, S174475. (B204902; 174 Cal.App.4th 546; Los Angeles County Superior Court; BS107161.) Petition for review after the Court of Appeal reversed an order denying a motion to compel arbitration. This case presents the following issue on remand from the United States Supreme Court: What is the significance of AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (2011) 563 U.S. __ [131 S.Ct. 1740, 179 L.Ed.2d 742] to the issues in this case?

The outcomes from these two cases will have a lasting impact on California consumer rights. The collateral damage in the employment context will be unavoidable.

I’ll keep you posted on what the Court decides.