Cal. Litig. 2021, Volume 34, Number 3

Can California Protect Employees from Entering into Mandatory Pre-Dispute Arbitration Agreements and Avoid Federal Preemption?

By Paul J. Dubow & Marc D. Alexander

Paul Dubow began arbitrating cases in 1972 and was initially trained as a mediator in 1994. He became a full time neutral in December 2000, following his retirement after 26 years as director of litigation at Dean Witter Reynolds. He has arbitrated or mediated over 550 cases.

Marc Alexander is a mediator and litigator at AlvaradoSmith APC. He authors the blog California Mediation and Arbitration ( and co-contributes to the blog California Attorneys Fees ( His email is

In California, legislative efforts to prevent employers from requiring employees to sign pre-dispute arbitration clauses, removing the right to a court or jury trial, have traveled a long and rocky road. The biggest rock — really a boulder — has been the doctrine of federal preemption. Does the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempt California’s most recent attempt to prevent employers from requiring employees to enter into mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements?

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