New York employees may be interested in learning that the U.S. Supreme Court recently began to hear arguments in a case where workers employed at religious hospitals argued that their pension plans were underfunded due to being wrongly classified. The lack of funds occurred because the affiliations could claim a religious exemption from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
The court heard oral arguments in the case on March 27. At this time, the attorney for the religious nonprofit organizations stated that pension plans have been exempt from ERISA for three decades regardless of whether or not the pension plans were established by the church. The attorneys representing the affected employees argued that, since the church had no direct involvement in the pension plans, they should not be considered exempt from ERISA.
If the court rules against the churches, it is estimated that approximately 1 million employees could be affected. The hospitals could also be required to pay penalties that would be retroactively owed, which could cost billions of dollars. The court was reportedly reviewing three prior opinions, all of which maintained that the employee pensions were wrongly classified.
If an employee is not receiving the benefits they should be receiving by law, an attorney may assist with filing a lawsuit against the employer. In some cases, the lawyer may represent the employee by backing the allegations with the proper laws and previous court decisions in an attempt to seek a settlement without going to court. If the employer refuses to settle with the employee, the attorney may then take the case to court.