The Third Circuit Upholds Arbitration Clause in Nurse’s Employment Contract

Author: Marc L. Penchansky

The enforceability of arbitration clauses has become a hot topic. Last month we wrote on how the Supreme Court of the United States made it clear that the States were not free to ignore the Federal Arbitration Act’s preference for arbitration due to some contrary public policy. The highest appellate court of West Virginia had ruled that arbitration clauses in nursing facility residency contracts were not enforceable as they were against the State’s public policy.

On Wednesday, the Third Circuit also had an opportunity to consider the Federal Arbitration Act. In Quilloin v. Tenet Healthsystem Philadelphia, — F.3d —-, 2012 WL 833742 (C.A.3 (Pa.), March 14, 2012), the Third Circuit strongly supported the federal preference for arbitration clauses when it upheld an arbitration clause in a hospital employee’s contract.

Janice Quilloin twice entered into an employment agreement with Tenet Healthsystem to work as a registered nurse. Nurse Quilloin’s employment contracts set forth individualized arbitration as the sole avenue to resolve most disputes. Eventually, Nurse Quilloin filed a collective action in federal district court against Tenet under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as a state-based class action and common law claims. Tenet filed a motion to compel obedience with the agreement to arbitrate.
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