"The Immaculate (Church-Affiliated) Exception? Supreme Court Gets Religion on ERISA"
The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision on June 5, 2017 in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton is a significant victory for church-affiliated hospitals and similar institutions. This Stroock Special Bulletin provides an overview of the decision, in which the Court ruled that an employee benefit plan maintained by an organization controlled by or associated with a church with the principal purpose of administering or funding an employee retirement or welfare plan for the employees of a church (such organization a “principal-purpose organization”), is a “church plan” exempt from the requirements of the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), even if established by the principal-purpose organization and not directly established by a church. The opinion reverses three appellate decisions on the matter.