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(Alexandria, Va., November 13, 2006) The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has filed an amicus brief in Retail Industry Leaders Association v. James D. Fielder before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. SHRM, joined by the HR Policy Association and the American Benefits Council, has challenged Maryland's Fair Share Health Care Fund Act on the grounds that it is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
Under the Fair Share Act, which is due to become effective January 1, 2007, private companies with more than 10,000 employees in Maryland would be required to pay a certain minimum amount for employees' health insurance costs. By law, that amount would be equivalent to at least 8 percent of total wages paid to employees. If an employer does not provide health care coverage to employees or if the employer's health care costs are less than 8 percent of employees' wages, the employer must pay the Maryland Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation an amount equal to the difference between the employer's actual health insurance costs and the required 8 percent minimum cost.
SHRM argued that Maryland's Fair Share Health Care Fund Act not only threatens to destroy uniformity in the design and administration of employee benefit plans, but also is preempted by the ERISA, which generally preempts state laws that relate to employee benefit plans.
In March 2006, SHRM filed an amicus brief in the RILA case filed in the U.S. District Court of Maryland. In July 2006, Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled in favor of SHRM's argument that the Maryland Fair Share Health Care Fund Act is preempted by ERISA. The State of Maryland then appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The most recent challenge by SHRM was filed on November 7, 2006.
For additional information or to view a copy of the amicus brief challenging Maryland's Fair Share Health Care Fund Act submitted by SHRM, the HR Policy Association, and the American Benefits Council, visit SHRM Government Affairs Online at http://www.shrm.org/government/.
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