A federal court has struck down a 2005 law in Suffolk County, N.Y., requiring big box retailers such as Wal-Mart to provide affordable healthcare coverage to workersa ruling that could bolster legal challenges to other local statutes with employer mandates.
In the ruling, the U.S. District Court in Central Islip sided with the retail industry in its argument that the law was pre-empted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, which regulates employee benefit plans. In his ruling, the judge called alternatives to compliance with ERISA unrealistic and cited a decision last year by the U.S. District Court in Baltimore invalidating a similar Maryland law requiring certain large employers to spend 8% of wages on healthcare or pay the state to provide those benefits. That decision was upheld on appeal.
Employers are challenging similar ordinances in other municipalities, including San Francisco. -- by Rebecca Vesely