Do you work for a church-affiliated medical facility?

On behalf of Stephen G. Nagle & Associates posted in ERISA Claims on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

More than 30 states have allowed companies to make changes to their workers’ compensation coverage in recent years. Those changes put employees in difficult positions when they suffer injuries at work.

Texas requirements for workers’ compensation coverage

The basic idea of workers’ compensation is a trade-off. Employees can’t easily sue their employers for job-related injuries. In return, injured employees are supposed to get timely medical care and partial payments for their wages.

In Texas, employers can opt out of using workers’ compensation insurance and provide the care needed by their employees directly. These private employee plans mean that if you are injured while working for a self-insured company, you must rely on your employer to pay your medical bills and lost wages. This can lead to fewer protections for workers who suffer injuries or workplace illnesses.

Employee rights advocates claim that employers who self-insure have too much power to deny injured employee claims. Fortunately, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) sets minimum insurance coverage standards for employers. Even private employee plans that cover health, dental and retirement are supposed to meet basic funding standards established by ERISA.

Do you work for a church-affiliated medical facility?

The IRS, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and U.S. Department of Labor provide health coverage exemptions for medical facilities with religious associations. This means that certain health care providers do not need to comply with the minimum standards established by ERISA. A number of lawsuits between health organizations and their employees have brought the issue to the forefront.

Will the High Court side with employers or employees?

Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing arguments on both sides for a lawsuit between church-affiliated hospitals and their workers. Three health organizations want to overturn lower court decisions that forced them to follow ERISA standards.

If the U.S. Supreme Court agrees with the lower courts, the employers will have to follow minimum regulations set by federal law. This would be a win for workers. However, if the court reverses the lower courts, employees of church-affiliated medical facilities have a lot to lose.

If you are an employee who has suffered a job-related loss, seek the advice of an experienced ERISA attorney.

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