Cronin v. Sheldon

In Cronin v. Sheldon, 195 Ariz. 531, 991 P.2d 231 (1999), the Court held that a tort claim for wrongful termination was not protected by the anti-abrogation clause. At issue in Cronin was whether the Arizona Employment Protection Act, A.R.S. 23-1501(3)(b)(i) (2014), constitutionally could curtail a wrongful termination claim brought under the Arizona Civil Rights Act, A.R.S. 41-1401 to -1492 (2014). Id. at 533,1, 991 P.2d at 233. The court held the claim at issue was not protected because it did not "evolve from common law antecedents." Id. at 539,37, 991 P.2d at 239. Indeed, "the common law gave no protection to employees or others against discrimination based on race, age, or gender and recognized no such right." Id. The Arizona Supreme Court gave effect to the Employment Protection Act notwithstanding a finding that its preamble was unconstitutional. 195 Ariz. at 537-38, PP 25-32, 991 P.2d 231 at 237-38. Cronin rejected the contention that "because a legislative preamble sets forth notions repugnant to the constitution, the operative legislation itself is necessarily invalid." Id. at P 28. Cronin relied on the rule "that where an unambiguous operative statutory section conflicts with the purpose or policy section of a statute, the operative section controls." Id. at 538, P 29, 991 P.2d at 238.