Washington, DC – The nationwide employer community came out in force today to support The ERISA Industry Committee’s (ERIC) petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court of the United States. Six amicus briefs were filed on behalf of 48 groups representing employers in every major industry across the country. The briefs requested the Court to grant ERIC’s petition for review of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision dismissing ERIC’s challenge to a Seattle health coverage mandate, Municipal Code (SMC) 14.28, and to reconcile conflicting rulings on ERISA preemption by the First, Fourth, and Ninth Circuits.
“These amici filings underscore the immediate need for the Supreme Court to decide this vital question of law and resolve the issue for the national employer community. This case is not solely about the City of Seattle’s health care mandate but about protecting the future of employer-sponsored benefits in jurisdictions across the country. The briefs filed in support of our petition highlight the impact similar ‘play-or-pay’ requirements would have on employers of all sizes and industries, no matter their location. Seattle is not an isolated case; jurisdictions across the country are poised to follow in its footsteps,” said Annette Guarisco Fildes, President and CEO of ERIC.
In November 2020, ten localities filed in support of the Seattle ordinance at the Ninth Circuit stage, including San Francisco and Oakland County, California, which have already placed “play-or-pay” requirements on businesses regardless of industry. Today, nearly thirty state and local business groups filed to support ERIC’s legal challenge, including ten representing businesses in jurisdictions that supported Seattle’s mandate. These briefs highlighted the need for the Court to address the play-or-pay provisions, as well as conflicting Circuit Court decisions on ERISA preemption, and to restore a uniform interpretation of ERISA.
“ERIC’s efforts to reverse bad legal precedent is critical to employer-sponsored benefits, as well as the millions of Americans who rely on them, and needed to restore the uniformity that Congress mandated when ERISA was enacted. Our petition urges the Court to protect federal law and ensure that employers can continue to provide generous, uniform benefits to employees and their families, no matter where they live or work,” said Guarisco Fildes.
ERIC initially filed its challenge to Seattle’s health care ordinance in 2020, on the grounds that it forced employers to develop Seattle-specific administrative schemes to ensure compliance with the mandate, which was a blatant attempt to control benefit plans established under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and, therefore, the ordinance should be preempted. The U.S. District Court for the Western Districtof Washington and Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of Seattle. ERIC’s petition to the Supreme Court contends that the Ninth Circuit improperly relied on Golden Gate Restaurant Association v. San Francisco to dismiss ERIC’s challenge as the ruling conflicts with First and Fourth Circuit decisions. Our petition calls for the Supreme Court to rectify this clear circuit split on whether ERISA preempts play-or-pay provisions, restore a consistent interpretation of ERISA, and rein in state and local efforts to undermine ERISA’s uniform nationwide scheme.
Below is a list of the organizations that signed and filed amicus briefs in support of ERIC’s petition:
- Chamber of Commerce of The United States of America
- Business Roundtable
- National Association of Manufacturers
- Restaurant Law Center
- National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center
- National Retail Federation
- International Franchise Association
- Asian American Hotel Owners Association
- American Benefits Council
- Business Group on Health
- HR Policy Association
- National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions
- Society for Human Resource Management
- Alabama Employer Health Consortium
- Healthcare Purchaser Alliance of Maine
- Silicon Valley Employers Forum
- Retail Litigation Center, Inc.
- Retail Industry Leaders Association
New England Legal Foundation, non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to addressing policy and constitutional concerns related to free enterprise.
- American Hotel and Lodging Association
- Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association
- California Hotel & Lodging Association
- Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association
- Connecticut Lodging Association
- Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, Inc.
- Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association, Inc.
- Hawai`i Hotel Alliance
- Hospitality Minnesota
- Hotel Association of New York City
- Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association
- Maryland Hotel & Lodging Association, Inc.
- Metropolitan Memphis Hotel & Lodging Association
- Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association
- The New Jersey Hotel Lodging Association
- New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association
- North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association
- Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association
- Oklahoma Hotel & Lodging Association
- Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
- RI Hospitality Association
- Seattle Hotel Association
- South Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association
- St. Louis Area Hotel Association
- Texas Hotel & Lodging Association
- Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association
- Washington Hospitality Association
- Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association, Inc.