Stephan Zouras Represents Presence Health Employees in Underfunded Pension Plan Lawsuit

Tuesday, April 14 - 2015

On April 2, 2015 Stephan Zouras filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of employees of Presence Health Network.  Plaintiffs allege that Presence has, for many years, violated numerous provisions of ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act), including underfunding the Resurrection Health Care Defined Benefit Plan and the Provena Employees’ Retirement Plan by claiming the Plans are exempt from ERISA’s protections because they are “church based plans.”  As a result of its misclassification, we believe Presence Health underfunded its Plans by tens of millions of dollars.  Recently, Federal District Court Judge Edmond Chang agreed with our position and ruled in favor of our clients on similar claims filed against Advocate Health Care Network.  See Stapleton, et al. v. Advocate Health Care Network and Subsidiaries, et al., 14 cv 1873 (N.Dist.Ill.) (order entered December 31, 2014).  The Court specifically held, “the Advocate plan does not meet the criteria of an exempt church plan under ERISA.”
Typically, employee benefit plans that qualify as “church plans” are exempt from many federal tax laws and pension requirements, including minimum vesting rules.  However, many hospitals and healthcare facilities, who claim an affiliation with a particular church or religious organization to benefit from ”church plan” tax laws and pension plan vesting rules, are not actually controlled by a church or aligned with a specific religious practice or belief. 
While these institutions can receive a tremendous financial benefit from “church plan” exemptions, including the ability to fund pensions based on the minimum vesting rules, in many cases they do not qualify for these exemptions and are wrongly taking advantage of a law which does not apply to them.
We believe this is a direct violation of ERISA, which was crafted to protect employee retirement funds by providing minimum vesting and funding standards to ensure after years of service, employees receive all the benefits promised by their retirement plan under applicable laws.
If you or someone you know has worked for a hospital or other employer which claims a religious affiliation, we can help you understand your legal rights.  Contact us for a complimentary review of your employee benefit plan.

For more information on your rights, contact us

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