For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) continues to be confident in our lawsuit against the City of Seattle and believes that the City’s latest arguments to dismiss the lawsuit will be rejected by the court.
“ERIC remains secure in our belief that the Court will find the health coverage and payment mandate in Part 3 of the Seattle Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative (SMC 14.25) obstructs federal law,” said Annette Guarisco Fildes, President and CEO, ERIC. “The City’s overreach into federal domain is clear as is the federal law that governs how large employers administer benefits to workers and their families.”
Under Part 3 of the Initiative, Seattle 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 governed by federal law.
Last month, ERIC filed a motion for summary judgment that argued 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 the Initiative. ERIC’s motion for summary judgment was filed in response to the City’s motion to dismiss the case. ERIC’s response to the City’s most recent arguments will be filed by December 6.
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.
“The outcome of this lawsuit is vital to the ability of all large employers to administer benefits to their nationwide workforce uniformly, without state by state requirements. As more and more states and localities work to regulate company benefit plans, employers from all industries could face costly and burdensome mandates dictating the level of health care and retirement options they provide to workers and their families,” said Guarisco Fildes.