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HOFSTRA LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW JOURNAL
commerce and other federal interests.160 The primary purpose of ERISA was to remedy defects in the private retirement system which threatened
that: “1) employees [were] not benefits by termination of pension
deprived of plans before
anticipated retirement sufficient funds [were]
accumulated”;162 2) plans by providing
employers were encouraged to establish pension favorable tax treatment for plans which complied
with ERISA requirements;163 and “3) discrimination in retirement against people who were self-employed was eliminated.” 164
The employee benefit within Section 1003(a). 165
plans regulated These include
by ERISA are described any “benefit plan that is
established or maintained any industry or activity
by any employer engaged in commerce or in affecting commerce,”166 or “any employee
organization(s) representing employees engaged industry or activity affecting commerce.”167 The that are exempted from ERISA regulation are 1003(b) and include:
in commerce or in any employee benefit plans enumerated in Section
(1) governmental plans, (2) church plans, (3) [any] plan that is maintained solely for the purpose of complying with workmen’s compensation or disability insurance laws, (4) [any] plan that is maintained outside of the United States primarily for the benefit of persons who are nonresident aliens, and (5) [any] plan which is an excess benefit plan and is unfunded. 168
To achieve uniform ERISA application to all employee benefit p l a n s , C o n g r e s s i n c l u d e d a p r e e m p t i o n c l a u s e s o t h a t i n d i v i d u a l l y p a s s e d
state laws could not circumvent the legislation.169
clause, Section 1144(a), states that “the provisions of [ERISA] shall
160. John F. Wagner, Annotation, Construction and Application of Preemption Exemption, Under Employee Retirement Income Security Act (29 U.S.C.S. § 1001 et seq.), For State Laws Regulating Insurance, Banking, or Securities (29 U.S.C.S. § 1144(b)(2)), 87 A.L.R. FED. 409
70 C.J.S. Pensions § 13 (2006).
Pension Benefits Guar. Corp. v. R.A. Gray & Co., 467 U.S. 717, 720 (1984) (citing
Nachman Corp. v. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp., 446 U.S. 359, 361-62, 374-75 (1980)).
Gillis v. Hoechst Celanese Corp., 4 F.3d 1137, 1145 n.6 (3d Cir. 1993).
See Commercial Mortgage Ins. Inc. v. Citizens Nat’l Bank of Dallas, 526 F. Supp. 510
Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1003(a) (2001).
29 U.S.C. §1003(a)(1) (2001 & Supp. 2007).
See 29 U.S.C.A. § 1144(a) (West 1998).