On January 11, NELA signed on to the National Employment Law Project’s amicus brief in the 3rd Circuit case Burrell v. Lackawanna Recycling Center. This case concerns three former civil detainees of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania who filed a proposed class action complaint alleging that the County, the private company that owns and operates the Lackawanna County Recycling Center, and other private and public defendants forced hundreds of child support debtors to work at the Recycling Center for $5.00 per day in unsafe conditions in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The amicus brief discusses the history of prison labor and its connection to American slavery. Additionally, the brief highlights the unique breadth of the FLSA’s coverage of employees, how courts have interpreted the FLSA’s definitions, the policy purposes behind the FLSA, and why the district court’s standard fails to uphold those policies. We are grateful to NELP and NELA member Rachel Bien, Olivier Schreiber & Chao LLP (CA) for the opportunity to sign on to this important brief.… Read More
NELA joined AARP to file amicus briefs in support of the plaintiffs-appellees in Kaplan v. Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, No. 14-8125 (3d Cir.), and Stapleton v. Advocate Health Care Network, No. 15-1368 (7th Cir.). These cases challenge the claimed religious exemption from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA) requirements by two large health care organizations. The amicus brief in Kaplan was filed on May 11, 2015 and the Stapleton brief was filed on May 13, 2015. The amicus briefs were drafted by NELA members Mary Ellen Signorille of AARP Foundation Litigation, Washington, DC and Ronald Dean, Pacific Palisades, CA.
Both cases were bought as putative class actions on behalf of participants and beneficiaries of the defendants-appellants’ retirement plans, alleging that the plans are improperly maintained as exempt church plans under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. Both organizations are large well-funded employers. Saint Peter’s Healthcare System (SPHS) is a non-profit healthcare corporation headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey with over 2,800 employees. In 1974, SPHS established its retirement plan, which is a non-contributory defined benefit pension plan and, for over thirty years, operated it as an ERISA plan. In 2006, during the nationwide economic downturn, SPHS … Read More