For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) filed a motion for summary judgment in our lawsuit against the City of Seattle. In the motion ERIC argues that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the federal law that enables employers to administer health and retirement benefits uniformly across the country, preempts Part 3 of the Seattle Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative (SMC 14.25). ERIC’s motion was filed in response to the City’s motion to dismiss the case.
“We strongly believe that Part 3 of the Initiative is in violation of ERISA preemption principles,” said Annette Guarisco Fildes, President and CEO, ERIC. “Through ERISA, Congress made clear its intent that employee benefit plans be ‘exclusively a federal concern.’ This lawsuit is important not only for large hotel employers, but for employers in all industries that may be subject to state or local rules that impact their ability to administer employee benefit plans uniformly for their workers and families across the country.”
Under Part 3 of the Initiative, City hotels with at least 100 rooms must offer the affected employees (even if they have other coverage) coverage in an employer-sponsored group health plan with benefits that are the equivalent of gold-level medical policy on the Washington State insurance exchange at a cost of no more than five percent of their monthly gross taxable earnings or else provide additional compensation based, in part, on the cost of such coverage. ERIC’s lawsuit seeks to halt enforcement of Part 3 of the Initiative because it requires, uniquely for Seattle, a specified level of health plan benefits and precludes uniform plan administration.
In August, ERIC and the City of Seattle agreed to a temporary non-enforcement of the Initiative until the case is decided or the end of the year, whichever is earlier. The agreement is still in effect.
Click here to read ERIC’s motion.