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U.S. Supreme Court Exempts Religiously Affiliated Hospitals From Pension Protections

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that religiously affiliated hospitals do not have to comply with federal regulations that protect employee pensions.

On June 5, eight justices (newly appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the decision) ruled these health systems can take advantage of the same exemption given to houses of worship.

Good News, Bad News: A Win And A Loss At The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is considering an important church-state case dealing with taxpayer funding of religious institutions. A decision in that case, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, had not come down by the time this issue of Church & State went to press. However, on June 5 the high court did act in two cases of interest to Americans United.

AU Files Brief In Supreme Court Pensions Case

Americans United in late February filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court rulings that required religiously affiliated hospitals to comply with federal pension protections.

The case concerns a federal law called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The law protects employee retirement plans by subjecting them to certain oversight regulations. Houses of worship are exempt from the law, and now some religiously affiliated entities are trying to claim the exemption as well.

Retirement Roulette

A pending trio of U.S. Supreme Court cases could impact the retirements of hundreds of thousands of Americans, simply because they work for religiously affiliated hospitals and other entities.

The cases focus on a federal law known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which requires most employers who offer pension plans to include several measures of security and transparency for their employees.

Supreme Court To Hear Religious Hospital Pension Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear three important cases that could affect the pensions of millions of people who work at religious hospitals.

The cases – Dignity Health v. Rollins, St. Peter’s Healthcare System v. Kaplan and Advocate Healthcare Network v. Stapleton – deal with a federal law known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Hospitals Aren’t Churches: Why The Supreme Court Should Conclude As Much And Protect Hundreds Of Thousands Of Pensions

UPDATE: On Thursday, February 23, 2017, Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case arguing that a hospital should not be able to take away employee pensions just because it's religiously affiliated. You can read the brief here.

Catholic Hospital Is Not Entitled To Ignore Rules Protecting Worker Retirement Savings, Says Americans United

Broad Exemption From Federal Law Would Harm Employees, Church-State Watchdog Asserts In Legal Brief

A New Jersey-based Catholic health care system that underfunds its pension plan should not be allowed to exempt itself from employee-benefits protections by labeling its benefits package as a “church plan,” Americans United for Separation of Church and State and allies say.