The Sixth Circuit (in a 2-1 decision) recently held that ERISA Section 510 does not protect unsolicited employee complaints. See Sexton v. Panel Processing, Inc., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8752 (6th Cir. May 9, 2014). Plaintiff Brian Sexton worked as a general manager for defendant Panel Processing and also served as a trustee for
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is significantly changing employer health care obligations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Prior to ACA, the Supreme Court held that ERISA did not require employers to offer any level or type of welfare benefits, such as health care benefits. Now that ACA has passed constitutional muster, effective 2014, employers with more than 50 full-time employees will be required to provide “affordable” health care coverage to their full-time employees or face financial penalties. Because the penalties are calculated based on the number of full-time employees, employers should carefully examine the legal risks of realigning their workforces to minimize the use of full-time employees in favor of employees whose status would not trigger ACA’s coverage mandate. This article discusses the ACA whistleblower and ERISA Section 510 claims that might arise from such workforce restructurings or other attempts by employers to avoid ACA’s coverage requirements and corresponding tax penalties.