On March 25, 2021, U.S. District Judge. Anne E. Thompson ruled that the FAA does preempt the NJLAD amendment to the extent it would impede the use of employment arbitration agreements governed by the FAA. In her decision, Judge Thompson relied on Section 2 of the FAA, which forecloses state legislatures from attempting to undercut the enforceability of arbitration agreements. Judge Thompson found that even though the amendment does not expressly preclude arbitration, its enforcement may undercut the FAA in practice. Accordingly, the court enjoined New Jersey from enforcing the amendment with respect to arbitration agreements between employers and employees that are governed by the FAA. According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams, the FAA governs all employment contracts except for those involving transportation employees. Thus, the impact of Judge Thompson’s ruling is far-reaching.
While this opinion may be appealed, it is welcome news for New Jersey employers who maintain pre-dispute arbitration agreements. For now, at least, pre-dispute arbitration agreements are enforceable as to NJLAD claims.
If you have any questions regarding this development or if we can be of further assistance regarding other concerns in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Shannon Finnegan, a Law Clerk in the New York office, contributed to this post.
Authored by David J. Baron