North Valley Emergency Specialists, L.L.C. v. Santana: The Death Knell for Employee Arbitration Agreements in Arizona?

In North Valley, the Arizona Supreme Court resolved the question regarding the scope of Arizona Revised Statute section 12-1517 by holding that its arbitration agreement exclusions applied to all employees, not just collective bargaining employees. The North Valley decision seems contrary to recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that favor the enforcement of employment arbitration agreements and hold that the FAA preempts state laws hostile to arbitration. However, the court, in North Valley, also declined to address the issues of whether the arbitration agreements would have been enforceable under common law contract principles or federal law through the FAA. It seems likely that Arizona courts will soon need to resolve these issues in order to clarify the enforceability of Arizona employment arbitration agreements.