Dec 2 The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to
hear appeals by Christian-affiliated hospital systems of lower
court rulings that gave the green light to employee lawsuits
accusing them of wrongly claiming a religious exemption from
federal pension law.
New Jersey-based St. Peter's Healthcare System,
Illinois-based Advocate Health System and California-based
Dignity Health each appealed separate federal appeals courts
rulings that refused to throw out the employee lawsuits. The
justices agreed to hear all three cases.
The employees in effect accuse the hospital systems of being
big businesses posing as church organizations in order to avoid
minimum funding and reporting requirements on employee pension
plans mandated by the federal Employee Retirement Income
Security Act, or ERISA.
The suits state that by claiming the exemption, the hospital
systems are putting employee pension plans at risk. The hospital
systems said allowing the lawsuits to go forward could
jeopardize nonprofit hospitals' ability to provide care.
(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Additional reporting
by Lawrence Hurley in Washington; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi
and Will Dunham)