The federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, known as ERISA, protects employees in many ways, such as requiring employers to set aside minimum amounts to cover pensions.
But because of an exemption in the law, governmental employees aren’t covered by ERISA. The lawsuit alleges that Atrium has skirted ERISA by incorrectly claiming it is a governmental entity.
“There’s nothing about Carolinas Health or Atrium Health that looks like a governmental entity,” said Karen Handorf, one of the Washington, D.C.-based lawyers representing the former Atrium employees.
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Atrium co-owns the company it uses to administer health benefits for its employees, and the lawsuit contends that arrangement has cost employees more for out-of-pocket expenses, such as co-insurance and deductibles.
“With the health care plan, (the employees are) paying more than they should be because the employer is really using the plan to enrich itself,” Handorf said.
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The plaintiffs are represented by Cohen Milstein, a national law firm that has filed many class-action suits on behalf of employees.
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