The California IATSE Council and the Entertainment Union Coalition applaud and thank Governor Newsom for signing AB 51 into law today and thanks its author Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez for her tireless work to pass this legislation over the past two years. The legislation will prevent employers from requiring workers to sign waiver of rights agreements as a condition of employment. Additionally, it will protect workers from retaliation if they refuse to sign away their rights.
The CIC and EUC have supported AB 51 since it was introduced by AM Gonzalez in 2018. We testified and lobbied in the effort to gain its passage from the State Assembly and Senate and we were deeply disappointed with last year’s veto by former Governor Brown.
Now, once again, with this legislation, the State of California has demonstrated its leadership in the effort to protect its citizens in their workplaces. AB 51 does not prohibit employers from using arbitration agreements to resolve workplace disputes. Instead, it merely requires that employees choose to sign such agreements without the coercive threat of job loss or other retaliatory actions.
The revelations of widespread sexual harassment and confidential settlements have rightly focused policymakers on the need to ensure that victims have access to justice, that violators are held accountable and that those who are innocent are publicly acknowledged as such. Confidential settlements inhibit all three of these goals. The instances of repeat offenders have also demonstrated the harm that comes from keeping the outcome of these claims confidential. Confidential settlements epitomize all of the most harmful practices that have enabled widespread abuse to go undetected for decades.
With AB 51, California once again leads the nation in worker protection. We welcome this action.