FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Class Action Lawsuit Filed Challenging Contraceptive Mandate
Romeoville, Ill., Sept. 24, 2013 - Today, a class action lawsuit was filed by various religious organizations affiliated with the Catholic Church opposing the application of the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), against three federal agencies.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for Colorado by Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, Christian Brothers Services and several of the Little Sisters of the Poor Homes, both for themselves and more than 200 other similarly situated employers that have adopted the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust (CBEBT), a medical program administered by Christian Brothers Services for Catholic employers.
The litigation arises from the requirement under ACA for employers to include in their employee benefit plan coverage for contraceptives without any cost-sharing requirements on behalf of the employees. The three federal agencies responsible for implementing ACA (the Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health & Human Services) issued final regulations implementing the contraceptive mandate on June 28. The final regulations only allow certain religious entities, narrowly defined as “religious employers,” to avoid complying with the contraception mandate and therefore avoid substantial financial penalties. Plaintiffs in this class action are not “religious employers” within that narrow definition. For them, the regulations offered only certain “accommodations” that were unacceptable because complying with the accommodations could cause the plaintiffs to violate their religious beliefs by requiring them to contract for, pay for or otherwise facilitate the provision of objected-to contraceptives.
Since the passage of ACA in 2010, Christian Brothers Services has worked alongside other religious denominations to seek an accommodation and/or an exemption from ACA’s contraceptive mandate where compliance with the mandate would violate an employer’s religious beliefs. However, without having secured an exemption through the regulatory process, the plaintiffs in this case felt they had no choice but to seek recourse through litigation, both for themselves and for other similarly situated employers in this plan. According to Brother Michael Quirk, FSC, Ed.D, President/CEO of Christian Brothers Services, “it is clear that the White House and the three federal agencies implementing ACA are committed to a broad definition of preventative care that includes contraceptives and that protection of religious freedom and choice is of little or no concern.”
The plaintiffs in the Christian Brothers Services case are objecting to the requirement to provide contraceptives, including sterilizations and contraceptives that could cause an abortion, such as “morning after” pills or “emergency contraceptives.” The plaintiffs believe that a religious organization should not have to face the choice of violating its faith or, on the other hand, violating the law and face crippling financial penalties.
More than 60 lawsuits have been filed challenging the contraceptive mandate. This is the first class action.
Locke Lord LLP, a large national law firm, and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a prominent nonprofit, public-interest law firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. that is dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions, will be representing the plaintiffs in this lawsuit.
Christian Brothers Services (cbservices.org)
Founded in 1960 and headquartered in Romeoville, Illinois, Christian Brothers Services is a nonprofit, Catholic organization that administers cooperative programs in the areas of health/retirement, property/casualty and consulting/technology to church organizations.
Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust (CBEBT)
CBEBT is a cooperative benefit program designed exclusively for Catholic employers including dioceses. This benefit program provides comprehensive, cost-effective employee health and wellness programs that are sensitive to the unique needs of Catholic employers.
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS SERVICES