U.S. Supreme Court rejects Seattle hotel workers insurance mandate challenge

The judges refused to hear an appeal by a group called the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) against a lower court ruling that upheld the law. Their decision not to take up the challenge could encourage other cities and states to adopt similar requirements intended to address the widespread lack of health insurance among low-wage employees.

The Seattle law, ruled by Democrats, requires large hotel operators to provide up to $1,375 a month in insurance benefits or direct payments to workers. Seattle, with a population of over 700,000, is a city known for its liberal politics and is the largest in Washington State.

ERIC is a non-profit organization based in the US capital representing major employers in their capacity as benefit plan sponsors for their national workforces.

The group sued Seattle in 2018 in federal court, arguing the law was prohibited by the federal Employees Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), which overrides state laws that attempt to regulate plans. employee benefits.

A federal judge dismissed the case. Last year, the 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, upheld the judge’s decision, finding that the law does not require employers to create new plans or modify existing ones. already exist, and is therefore not prohibited by ERISA.

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, ERIC said ERISA was designed to create uniform national standards for employee benefit plans and that the Seattle law would upend that plan by requiring special treatment for workers. one industry in one city.

President Joe Biden’s administration has backed Seattle in the case, saying the law was not preempted by ERISA because it allows employers to make cash payments directly to workers instead of setting up new plans. benefits.

ERIC’s call was supported by the United States Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobby, as well as the National Federation of Independent Business and the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

By Daniel Wiessner

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