Beginning January 1, 2015, commercial arbitration providers must publish to their website on a quarterly basis information regarding each arbitration they have handled, including:
- the name of any non-consumer party involved in the arbitration (i.e., the name of the employer) and whether the non-consumer party was the initiating or responding party;
- the nature of the dispute involved (e.g. employment);
- the annual wage earned by the involved employee within the ranges specified by the new law;
- the amount of the claim, prevailing party, ultimate disposition and the amount of any award, including attorneys’ fees;
- whether the employee was represented by an attorney and, if so, the name of the attorney and the law firm;
- the name of the arbitrator and the amount of the arbitrator’s fees; and
- the total number of times the employer previously has been a party in arbitration or mediation before the dispute resolution provider.
This new law will make all of the above information publicly available, and will certainly have the (presumably intended) effect of diminishing the privacy that arbitration and mediation forums provide employers.
Employers that are considering mandatory arbitration due to the confidentiality it can bring should think twice when considering arbitration in California. The fundamental details of California arbitrations will cease being private. That said, parties will also have more information and track records to review when selecting an arbitrator and arbitration forum.