June 23, 2024

Tullio Corradini

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Good News for Employers: The Federal Arbitration Act Preempts the Prohibition of Mandatory Arbitration Contracts

Good News for Employers: The Federal Arbitration Act Preempts the Prohibition of Mandatory Arbitration Contracts

On February 15, 2023, the Ninth Circuit Court docket of Appeals made a decision Chamber of Commerce v. Bonta and discovered that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts California’s Assembly Bill 51 (AB 51).


The FAA embodies a countrywide coverage favoring arbitration. In excess of the years, the U.S. Supreme Court docket has struck down a range of California rules and choose-designed regulations relating to arbitration as preempted by the FAA.

The California legislature has engaged in a extended energy to craft laws that would avert employers from necessitating personnel to enter into arbitration agreements as a condition of employment, while hoping to stay away from conflict with the FAA. In December 2018, the California legislature launched AB 51 to shield staff members from “forced arbitration.” Governor Newson signed the bill into law, which was enacted with an productive date of January 1, 2020. Oddly, AB 51 criminalized deal formation, prohibiting companies from demanding employees or an applicant for work to enter into an arrangement to arbitrate selected promises as a condition of work. At the same time, for workforce who did enter into arbitration agreements, all those agreements had been nonetheless enforceable under AB 51. This solution was taken to prevent conflict with Supreme Courtroom precedent keeping that a condition rule discriminating from arbitration is preempted by the FAA by implementing only to the problem in which an arbitration settlement is built, as opposed to banning arbitration by itself.

On December 9, 2019, a collection of trade associations and business enterprise groups (“Chamber of Commerce”) submitted a grievance for declaratory and injunctive reduction versus different California officers searching for a declaration that AB 51 was preempted by the FAA and requesting a long lasting injunction prohibiting California officers from enforcing AB 51. The district court docket granted the motion for a preliminary injunction, ruling that the Chamber of Commerce was likely to thrive on the deserves of its preemption declare.

The Ninth Circuit in Chamber of Commerce v. Bonta affirmed the district court’s final decision.  

Court’s Evaluation:

The Courtroom stated the several strategies a federal statute may preempt state legislation, one particular staying conflict preemption, which can happen wherever it is “impossible for a private celebration to comply with both of those state and federal demands,” or in which, under the situations of a particular circumstance, the challenged condition regulation “creates an unacceptable ‘obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the complete functions and targets of Congress.’” (Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Bonta (9th Cir. Feb. 15, 2023, No. 20-15291) 2023 U.S. Application. LEXIS 3586, at *15.)

Listed here, the state law did produce an unacceptable obstacle to the applications and aims of Congress.  The Supreme Courtroom has produced it obvious that the FAA was created to promote arbitration. Also, the Court has proven an “equal-therapy principle,” demanding courts to put arbitration agreements on equal footing with all other contracts, which permits courts to invalidate an arbitration agreement based on commonly relevant agreement defenses but not on lawful regulations that apply only to arbitration agreements or that derive their meaning from the point that an arrangement to arbitrate is at issue. (Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Bonta, supra, 2023 U.S. Application. LEXIS 3586, at *18.)

The Ninth Circuit panel stated that the Court has produced distinct in previous selections that the FAA’s preemptive scope extends to condition legal guidelines, like AB 51, that discriminate from the development of arbitration agreements and pose an obstacle to the FAA. Further more, the panel spelled out that the 4th Circuit in Saturn Distrib. Corp. v. Williams (4th Cir. 1990) 905 F.2d 719, and the 1st Circuit in Securities Field Asso. v. Connolly (1st Cir. 1989) 883 F.2d 1114, attained comparable conclusions that the FAA preempts a point out rule discriminating towards arbitration by discouraging or prohibiting the formation of arbitration agreements.

As this kind of, the Court docket discovered that AB 51 discriminates from arbitration agreements and singles out arbitration provisions as an exception to usually relevant regulation. This is because California legislation normally lets an employer to enter into a agreement with an personnel that involves non-negotiable terms as a problem of employment, but underneath AB 51, an employer can’t enter into a agreement with non-negotiable conditions important to an arbitration settlement. AB 51’s penalty-centered plan inhibiting arbitration agreements before they are shaped violates the “equal-remedy principle” inherent in the FAA and demonstrates the sort of hostility to arbitration the FAA was enacted to defeat.


Supplied the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that the FAA preempts California’s AB 51, California businesses may perhaps continue employing obligatory arbitration agreements for current workers and new hires. Nonetheless, remember to retain in brain, companies continue to have to have to be certain that their obligatory arbitration agreements are drafted correctly to comply with other lawful necessities and limitations.

If you have any queries, please do not wait to make contact with your Weintraub Tobin employment attorney.