Friday, June 10, 2016

Another "Church Plan" Lawsuit Filed

This week, another lawsuit was filed challenging the right of a religiously-affiliated hospital to rely on the "church plan" exemption from ERISA for its pension plan.  The complaint (full text) in Butler v. Holy Cross Hospital, (ND IL, filed 6/26/2016), alleges that HCH's pension plan violated a number of provisions in ERISA.  When HCH terminated it plan, it was underfunded by $31 million. The complaint alleges in part:
the HCH Plan is not a church plan because HCH is not a church. In fact, even if the law permitted certain non-church entities to establish church plans, the HCH Plan does not meet the various other requirements of a church plan. And if the HCH Plan did meet all the statutory requirements for church plan status, the statute would then be, to the extent, and as applied to HCH, an unconstitutional accommodation under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.