Supreme Court Lets Discharge Ruling Stand

November 15, 2005 ( - The US Supreme Court has refused to get involved in a lower court ruling clearing an employer of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violations in firing a worker two years after the worker lost his health plan eligibility.

By rejecting a further legal review, the high court left standing an opinion by the US 5 th Circuit Court of Appeals that employee Ricardo Hinojosa had “no rights” to benefits under the plan and so the employer, Jostens, had not violated Section 510 of ERISA when Hinojosa was discharged.

In addition, the 5 th Circuit rejected Hinojosa’s argument that Jostens breached its ERISA fiduciary duties by discharging him. According to the appellate court, the employer was not acting in its capacity as an ERISA fiduciary when it fired the employee.

The appeals court also determined that Jostens did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act when it fired the employee. Among other things, the appellate court found that the employee was unable to establish that the physical impairment that made it difficult for him to lift objects actually “prevented or even severely restricted” him from performing a substantial life activity.

The 5 th Circuit ruling in Hinojosa v. Jostens Inc., U.S., No. 05-74, cert. denied 11/14/05 is  here .