Skip to Main Content

Bloomberg Quotes Joanne Youn on Church Pension Cases

March 27, 2017, Bloomberg BNA

The pension benefits of more than 300,000 hospital workers will be at stake when the U.S. Supreme Court convenes on March 27, and it's anybody's guess what the justices will want to discuss.

The court will hear arguments in three cases by hospital workers who claim their pension plans are severely underfunded because the hospitals have wrongly claimed a religious exemption from federal pension law. More than three dozen class actions against hospitals with “church plans” have been filed in the past four years, with the workers scoring big appellate victories in cases against Advocate Health Care Network, Saint Peter's Healthcare System and Dignity Health.

. . .

Agency Deference

Another looming issue is how much deference should be paid to the federal agencies in charge of pension oversight—particularly the Internal Revenue Service.

With “more than three decades of reliance on administrative rulings on the line,” the Supreme Court will have to address the deference question “head-on,” Joanne C. Youn, an ERISA attorney and member of Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, told Bloomberg BNA in an email.  Ms. Youn leads the Employee Benefits Group at the firm.

“Given the stakes, the Court will presumably want to provide very clear guidance to employers who have relied on IRS private letter rulings to bless their church plan status and to the lower courts,” Youn said. This makes a 4-4 split ruling “unlikely,” she said.

For the full article, please visit Bloomberg BNA's website (subscription required).

Excerpt taken from the article "Devil in the Details as Justices Mull Church Pension Cases" by Jacklyn Wille for Bloomberg BNA.


About Caplin & Drysdale
Having celebrated our 50th Anniversary in 2014, Caplin & Drysdale continues to be a leading provider of legal services to corporations, individuals, and nonprofits throughout the United States and around the world. We are also privileged to serve as legal advisors to accounting firms, financial institutions, law firms, and other professional services organizations.

The firm's reputation over the years has earned us the trust and respect of clients, industry peers, and government agencies. Moreover, clients rely on our broad knowledge of the law and our keen insights into their business concerns and personal interests. Our lawyers' strong tactical and problem-solving skills -- combined with substantial experience handling a variety of complex, high stakes, matters in a boutique environment -- make us one the nation's most distinctive law firms.

With offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., Caplin & Drysdale's core practice areas include:
For more information, please visit us at
Washington, DC Office:
One Thomas Circle NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
New York, NY Office:
600 Lexington Avenue
21st Floor
New York, NY 10022


This communication does not provide legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship with you or any other reader. If you require legal guidance in any specific situation, you should engage a qualified lawyer for that purpose. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Attorney Advertising
It is possible that under the laws, rules, or regulations of certain jurisdictions, this may be construed as an advertisement or solicitation.
© 2020 Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered
All Rights Reserved.

Related Practice Area(s)