When is a religious entity permitted to dodge the letter of the law with respect to pensions? Most of the time, according to traditional interpretations of those laws.
That status has long frustrated plaintiffs’ attorneys, because it has provided cover to religiously affiliated hospitals and other “businesses” whose plans don’t meet ERISA standards.
Pension shortfalls at some religiously affiliated hospitals, businesses and social service agencies are raising new alarms and spotlighting a largely overlooked gap in the law protecting Americans' retirement benefits. Congress set up the exemption in benefits law to protect churches from government interference in their finances.
Now, however, the plaintiffs’ lawyers may have found a federal judge willing to crack open those protections.