The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. § 1, et seq., does not contain an express preemption provision, nor was it intended to be the exclusive codified arbitration law in all circumstances. However, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly taught that where the FAA applies, it is deemed to supersede state laws that are inconsistent with its provisions and purposes. Yet recent decisions by the highest courts of North Carolina and New Hampshire provide examples of continued efforts by state courts to chip away at the preemptive effect of the FAA concerning the interpretation and enforcement of arbitration agreements and the confirmation or vacatur of arbitral awards.
Katharine Beattie is a Member in the firm’s Boston office. Her practice focuses on dispute resolution and counseling on labor, employment, and other business matters, including discrimination, harassment, wage and hour disputes, wrongful termination, and the enforcement of noncompetition and nondisclosure agreements. She represents clients in arbitrations, in administrative agency proceedings, and in litigations.
The Supreme Court is currently set to answer the question of whether employees must be permitted, if they choose, to pursue relief collectively in an arbitration proceeding. Is that “concerted activity” that is protected by the National Labor Relations Act, and does that statutory provision supervene the provisions of the Federal Arbitration Act and the right to contract freely? And specifically, is a waiver of class actions in an arbitration clause in an employment agreement enforceable?