Friday, December 21, 2018

A Judge Rules the Affordable Care Act Is Unconstitutional, But Law Remains in Effect for Now

On December 14, 2018, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that the Affordable Care Act is invalid. The case before the Court was brought by 20 states, including Texas. The plaintiffs argued that the ACA’s individual coverage mandate was no longer constitutional, because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 removed the tax penalty associated with being uninsured. The plaintiffs claimed that, as a result, the individual mandate could no longer be upheld as a proper exercise of Congress’ taxing power. In addition, the plaintiffs argued that the individual mandate could not be severed from the rest of the law and, therefore, the entire ACA should be held unlawful.

The federal judge, Judge Reed O’Connor, agreed, holding that the individual mandate, “unmoored from a tax,” is unconstitutional. Judge O’Connor further concluded, based on the intent expressed by both the 2010 and 2017 Congresses, that the individual mandate is “essential” to the ACA and, accordingly, is not severable from the ACA’s remaining provisions. “In some ways, the question before the Court involves the intent of both the 2010 and 2017 Congresses,” the judge wrote in the opinion. “The former enacted the ACA. The latter sawed off the last leg it stood on.” The Judge ruled that, without the individual mandate, the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Avoiding Workplace Holiday Headaches

To make sure that “the most wonderful time of the year” stays that way, here is a quick refresher on how employers can sidestep certain employment law minefields that are common to the holiday season.

Religious Issues

December is home to Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Winter Solstice celebrations, among others. For this reason, a host of religious-related obligations can arise for employers under federal and state laws that prohibit religious discrimination and require reasonable religious accommodations.