FROM BOONE CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE RICHARD A. BRUEGGEMANN,
JUDGE ACTION NO. 14-CI-01622
FOR APPELLANT: Jeffrey C. Mando Bryce C. Rhoades Covington,
ARGUMENT FOR APPELLANT: Jeffrey C. Mando Covington, Kentucky.
FOR APPELLEE: Shane C. Sidebottom Paul J. Wischer Covington,
ARGUMENT FOR APPELLEE: Shane C. Sidebottom Covington,
BEFORE: KRAMER, CHIEF JUDGE; NICKELL AND THOMPSON, JUDGES.
Snyder filed an action in the Boone Circuit Court asserting
claims under the Kentucky Whistle Blower Act and the Kentucky
Wages and Hours Act after her employer, the Northern Kentucky
Area Development District (NKADD), terminated her employment.
NKADD filed a motion to stay the proceedings and compel
arbitration based on an arbitration agreement executed by it
and Snyder as a condition of Snyder's employment. The
circuit court denied the motion and NKADD appealed. The
issues on appeal concern the application of the Federal
Arbitration Act (FAA); whether the FAA pre-empts Kentucky
statutory law which prohibits arbitration as a condition of
employment as applied to a public employment contract; and
whether the arbitration agreement is otherwise void. We
conclude NKADD did not have authority to enter into the
arbitration agreement as a condition of Snyder's
employment and affirm.
is a political subdivision created pursuant to Kentucky
Revised Statutes (KRS) 147A.050 et seq. Pursuant to
KRS 147A.070(2)(a), it has the authority to "employ such
staff members as may be required for the operations of the
district [.]" The legislature also expressly conferred
the power upon NKADD to "[s]ue and be sued" and to
"[m]ake and enter into all contracts or agreements
necessary or incidental to the performance of its
duties[.]" KRS 147A.080 (2) and (4).
is funded by taxpayers for the purpose of administering
social programs in an area of Northern Kentucky comprising
eight counties. It receives federal funds for various social
programs including an Elder Abuse Program, a Long Term
Ombudsman Program, and a National Family Caregiver Program.
Additionally, through federal funds, NKADD partners with
local food banks to distribute food to lower-income
households and administers a small business lending fund.
NKADD also provides services through its Northern Kentucky
Workforce Investment Board to supply workers to businesses
and participates in a regional public-private partnership
working to supply businesses with employees needed to grow
businesses in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. In Fiscal Year
2014, federal funds totaled $4, 221, 895, nearly one-quarter
of NKADD's total revenues.
worked for NKADD as an administrative purchasing agent. In
connection with her employment, on October 18, 2011, Snyder
signed an arbitration agreement which provides:
This agreement applies to all legal claims or disputes which
have not been or were not resolved by you and the District
informally in the normal course of business. Accordingly, you
and the District are required to use this Agreement to
resolve employment related legal disputes. By accepting
employment with the District, you will have accepted this
Agreement under the Federal Arbitration Act, and it will be
binding on claims relating to your employment.
arbitration agreement identifies the claims subject to
Any and all employment claims under….the Kentucky
Wages and Hours Act, KRS 337.010 et seq.; … any
statutory claims relating to public employment, and any
claims of employment discrimination, retaliation, …
wrongful termination … claims or demands arising under
… public policy, the common law, or any federal state
or local statute, ordinance, regulation, or ...