Association Supports Motion to Rehear Case Protecting ERISA Preemption

May 14, 2021

HR Policy Association joined an amicus brief urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear a case in which the court decided the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) does not preempt a Seattle ordinance imposing health care requirements on certain employers.

Under the Seattle ordinance, hotels with 100 or more rooms and ancillary hotel businesses must provide full-time workers with health benefits equal to a gold-level policy on the Washington state health exchange or pay the equivalent directly to the employee.

While local in nature, the ruling has national implications.  “The repercussions of the Court permitting a single locality to exercise this type of power over ERISA-covered plans reach much further and threaten to alter the regulatory landscape materially and irreparably for employee benefit plans—not solely health plans—across the United States, to the detriment of employers, plans, participants, and beneficiaries.” 

The court’s decision clashes with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the expansive preemption provision in ERISA, and conflicts with several subsequent Circuit Court rulings on the matter, our brief backing the ERISA Industry Committee’s (ERIC) petition to rehear the case argues. 

The brief “is a clear sign that employers across multiple industries support a strong federal standard governing employer-sponsored health care, over disparate state and local mandates,” ERIC President and CEO Annette Guarisco Fildes said in a statement.