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Employment Contract and Unconscionability

Our prior disposition {in this case} consists of two paragraphs. The first addresses the validity of the arbitration agreement under federal law. By citing Duffield, 144 F.3d 1182, and Prudential Ins. Co. v. Lai, 42 F.3d 1299, we determined that Circuit City could compel arbitration of Al-Safin’s federal employment discrimination claims, and that Al-Safin knowingly agreed to arbitrate his federal claims. Al-Safin I, 46 Fed. Appx. at 446. Although we expressed “no opinion as to the enforceability of particular provisions,” we concluded that we were “unable to agree with the suggestion that illegal provisions so infected the contract as to render it invalid as a matter of federal law.” Id. (emphasis added).
The second paragraph discusses what we did not decide. We began with the general proposition that to be enforceable, an arbitration contract “must meet the requirements of generally applicable state [contract] law.” Id. We then remanded the case for the district court to determine the “validity of [the agreement] under [Washington] state law.” Id. at 446-47.
The plain meaning of our decision is that: (1) the arbitration agreement is valid under federal law; but (2) the district court was to determine in the first instance whether it is valid under state contract law. We did not address whether the arbitration agreement is enforceable under state law and the district court followed our mandate by determining unconscionability under Washington law.

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