News & Analysis as of

Religious Institutions

Supreme Court Clarifies Limits to ERISA Church Plan Exemption

by Miles & Stockbridge P.C. on

On March 27, 2017, the then 8 Supreme Court Justices heard oral arguments for three consolidated cases regarding the outer bounds of the “church plan” exception under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974...more

Requiring Repair, Rather than Demolition, For Church’s Violations of Municipality’s Property Maintenance Code May Impose A...

An Illinois appellate court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of RLUIPA claims asserted by the First United Methodist Church of West Dundee (the “Church”) against the Village of West Dundee, Illinois (the “Village”), finding...more

Nine Members Again, the Supreme Court Takes On Uneasy Relationship Between Church and State

by Baker Donelson on

On June 26, 2017, the last day of its session, the Supreme Court issued what is likely to be one of its most significant rulings this year – and possibly for years to come – in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia,...more

U.S. Supreme Court Forbids Exclusion of Churches from State Grant Program

by Hogan Lovells on

On June 26, 2017, in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, the U.S. Supreme Court held unconstitutional under the Free Exercise Clause Missouri’s refusal to award a playground resurfacing grant to a church. The...more

Debt Dialogue: June 2017 - Supreme Court Holds Church-Affiliated Organizations Exempt From ERISA: A Prescription for the Ailing...

On June 5, 2017, the United States Supreme Court rendered an important decision that will impact restructurings — particularly health care provider restructurings — going forward. The Supreme Court reversed the Third, Seventh...more

Supreme Court: Public Benefit Programs Cannot Exclude Churches Solely Because They Are Religious

by Holland & Knight LLP on

In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, No. 15-577 (June 26, 2017), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that excluding a church from a public benefit program for which it is otherwise qualified violates the Free...more

Tax-Exempt Financing of Churches, Parochial Schools and Other Sectarian Institutions After Trinity Lutheran Church: Permitted? ...

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 opinion in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, precluding states from discriminating against churches in at least some state financing programs, raises anew the question of...more

Supreme Court Decides Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, No. 15-577

by Faegre Baker Daniels on

On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, holding that, when the government offers a public benefit to organizations that meet specified criteria, the Free Exercise...more

New Substantial Burden Framework in the Sixth Circuit; Court Upholds RLUIPA Verdict in Favor of Michigan Township

In an important decision for municipalities across the Country, the Sixth Circuit upheld a district court decision that found Genoa Charter Township (Township) did not violate federal law in denying a church’s application for...more

Supreme Court Clarifies “Church Plan” Definition for ERISA Exemption Purposes

by Saul Ewing LLP on

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton implicates the benefit plans maintained by nonprofit entities affiliated with a church or religious organization, including many hospitals and...more

Church Wins Free Speech Claim Over Zoning Ordinance and $1,354,595 in Damages

Last year, we reported about a case in which the city of St. Michael, Minnesota utilized RLUIPA’s “safe harbor” provision to avoid liability under the act’s substantial burden and equal terms provisions. While the federal...more

Supreme Court Decision Offers Some Relief to Church-Affiliated Nonprofits Using ERISA Church Plan Exemption

by FordHarrison on

Executive Summary: The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton serves as a reminder to church-affiliated hospitals and other organizations using the ERISA church plan exemption to review the...more

RLUIPA Round-Up

What do tiny homes, marijuana, a sex club, the Satanic Temple, and yoga have in common? They each make an appearance in this installment of the RLUIPA Round-Up!...more

Church Plans Rejoice: The Supreme Court has Spoken

by Locke Lord LLP on

Over 30 lawsuits have been filed over the past several years alleging that defined benefit plans maintained by religiously-affiliated hospital systems are not entitled to church plan status under the Employee Retirement...more

Employee Benefit Plans For Principal-Purpose Organizations Need Not Be Established By A Church To Be Exempt From ERISA

by DeWitt Law, LLC on

In a ruling that could have cost nonprofit religious-affiliated employers millions of dollars in compliance and other costs had it gone the other way, on June 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court held, in a unanimous opinion...more

SCOTUS Church Plan Ruling Ends the Battle But Not the War: What Church-Affiliated Church Plan Sponsors Need to Know and Do Now

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that employee benefit plans sponsored by certain church-affiliated organizations do not have to be established by a church to be considered a “church plan,” which is exempt...more

U.S. Supreme Court Finds that Retirement Plans Sponsored by Religious Hospitals Are Exempt from ERISA

by Franczek Radelet P.C. on

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that retirement plans sponsored by church-affiliated organizations, such as hospitals, are exempt from ERISA. ERISA’s “church plan exemption” provides that a retirement plan that is...more

ERISA Exemption Upheld for Religious-Affiliated Hospitals

Hospitals that are “church-affiliated” may be breathing easier this week, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Monday that defined benefit qualified retirement plans (a/k/a pension plans) are not subject to the...more

Supreme Court Unanimously Extends the "Church Plan" ERISA Exemption to Plans Originally Established by Non-Church Affiliates

by Clark Hill PLC on

On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an 8-0 decision (with new Justice Gorsuch not participating as this case was argued and decided prior to his joining the Court) holding that qualified retirement plans maintained...more

ERISA ‘Church Plan’ Exemption Applies to Religiously Affiliated Hospital Plans

by McGuireWoods LLP on

In a victory for religiously affiliated hospitals sponsoring defined benefit (DB) plans, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 5 that such plans need not have been originally established by churches to be exempt from ERISA....more

The United States Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Hospitals on “Church Plan” ERISA Exemption

The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of religiously-affiliated hospitals and healthcare organizations in holding that a pension plan need not be established by a church in order to qualify for ERISA’s...more

City of Bayonne, New Jersey Sued Over Denial of Application to Build a Mosque

Last month, Bayonne Muslims, a New Jersey not-for-profit religious congregation, sued the City of Bayonne, New Jersey (the “City”), challenging the City’s denial of certain variances needed to construct a mosque. ...more

ERISA Religious Exemption Expanded: SCOTUS Says Church Affiliation is Enough

In a sigh of relief for faith-based healthcare providers, on Monday, June 5th, the U.S. Supreme Court held, in a decision authored by Justice Elena Kagan, that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s religious exemption...more

Supreme Court Confirms Standards for ERISA’s Church Plan Exception

by Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP on

In a clear win for religiously-affiliated employers, including hospital systems and educational institutions, a unanimous Supreme Court found that a statutory exception to ERISA’s requirements for “church plans” applies to...more

The Supreme Court’s Church Plan Decision

by Seyfarth Shaw LLP on

Seyfarth Synopsis: The Supreme Court has held unanimously that a 1980 amendment to ERISA means that a pension benefit plan need not be established by a church in order to be exempt from ERISA rules, including most...more

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