Irell Prevails in Constitutional Challenge to Jurisdiction-Stripping Statute

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May 2016

In a case brought by Irell partner David Schwarz, the California Fifth District Court of Appeal recently held that the California Labor Code’s jurisdiction-stripping provisions violate the California Constitution.

The unanimous precedent-setting separate of powers decision establishes the right of farm workers to directly challenge state-imposed collective bargaining agreements in the Superior Court.

The decision also paves the way for the Superior Court to consider the merits of a First Amendment challenge about whether the State of California can refuse public access to the on-the-record “arbitration” proceedings conducted pursuant to the Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC) statute. 

The case is Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), 247 Cal.App.4th 284 (2016). Irell's position was supported by noted First Amendment scholar and UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the First Amendment Coalition and the California Newspaper Publishers Association. 

The decision can be viewed here. For additional information, see press coverage in The Los Angeles Times and Fresno Bee.

Irell is also representing Gerawan in constitutional litigation in the California Supreme Court. Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, 236 Cal.App.4th 1024 (2015). For more information, see The Los Angeles TimesThe San Francisco Chronicle, the OC Register and California Lawyer.