Governmental agencies employ many workers in Washington D.C. These organizations generally qualify for the government exemption to operational rules for pension and benefit plans imposed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. A brewing class action lawsuit brought by a group of current and former hospital employees has challenged the health care organization’s assertion that ERISA rules do not apply to its health plan because it is a governmental entity.
The lawsuit maintains that the hospital has no recognizable basis for declaring itself exempt from ERISA regulations that normally apply to private employers. If the hospital had followed ERISA rules, then it would not have allegedly engaged in self-dealing transactions with affiliates and vendors that unnecessarily increased health care costs for plan participants.
The plaintiffs’ argument as detailed in court filings pointed out that no governmental body controlled the hospital or oversaw its operation. Furthermore, the employees of the hospital have not been classified as government employees, and the government does not fund the hospital except for health care payments that are normal for any hospital. The employer lacks any kind of taxing authority to raise revenue, and the hospital is currently being sued by both federal and state governments.
Legal analysts expect that the courts will spend considerable time reviewing the case. A person or organization that has concerns about ERISA benefits might opt to seek legal advice. An attorney familiar with the federal and local laws that govern employee pensions and benefits may research the person’s questions and provide clarity about regulatory compliance or the payment of benefits. During a dispute, an attorney might reach out to the opposing party and propose a solution before filing a lawsuit. If litigation becomes necessary, an attorney may build a legal argument promoting the client’s best interests.