A recent case, Kaplan v. St. Peters Healthcare in the 3 rd Circuit highlighted how difficult

it can be to determine when a plan is exempt from ERISA. A religiously affiliated hospital had

established a retirement plan for its employees. Generally, if a church establishes a plan then

that plan can be exempt under ERISA. The church can opt into ERISA if it follows proper

procedures. In this instance, the church’s qualifying agency, St. Peters Hospital, had actually

established the retirement plan. Because the qualifying agency rather than the church itself

established the plan, the court held that it could not be a church exempt plan. The church itself

had to establish the plan. ERISA, even though no procedures were followed to “opt in”,

governed. This opinion could have an impact on many plans that were previously considered to

be exempt under ERISA. Churches often have “sister” or related organizations.

Need legal assistance? Call a ERISA lawyer of Tuscaloosa today for a consultation!