An employer’s handbook required employees to agree to arbitrate employment disputes. It contained a waiver of the right to bring suit or seek arbitration as a private attorney general. Though the English language version of the handbook said the waiver was severable, the Spanish language translation said the waiver was not severable. Held, the trial court properly denied a motion to compel arbitration of employee’s wage and hour claims (brought in a single action with a PAGA claim). Under Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC (2014) 59 Cal.4th 348, an employee’s right to bring a PAGA suit cannot be waived. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to sever the unenforceable waiver. Even though the handbook said the English language version was controlling, the difference between the two versions rendered the provision ambiguous and the ambiguity was properly interpreted against the employer who drafted it.
California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 6 (Gilbert, P.J.); July 3, 2018; 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 604