The ability of employers operating in multiple states to administer benefits uniformly should be vigorously protected. A cornerstone of ERISA is its preemption of state laws that relate to employee benefit plans. This principle has been instrumental in the growth of employee benefit plans. For large employers, it allows them to design benefit programs that apply uniformly to employees in multiple states and are subject to a single set of federal standards and requirements, making the administration of these plans far more feasible and cost-effective. Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Department of Labor have vigorously upheld and enforced ERISA’s preemption provision for more than 40 years.
As partisan gridlock in Washington has increased and federal legislation governing employee benefits has stalled, various states have undertaken their own measures to address perceived gaps in coverage. Many of these state laws impose new mandates on employers, despite the federal uniformity standard established by ERISA. The Council is working to address the many concerns that multi-state employers have about these mandates and the potential for disruption to their benefits programs.
The following resources are designed to help Council members navigate these complicated issues:
In early 2019, the American Benefits Council formally launched the State Law Project to address growing activity by states and localities in the employee benefits arena by working closely with Council members and others that have extensive state advocacy programs. The initiative is co-chaired by former U.S. representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND).