Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.

PETITIONER: Shaw
RESPONDENT: Delta Air Lines, Inc.
LOCATION: Family Court of Ulster County

DOCKET NO.: 81-1578
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 463 US 85 (1983)
ARGUED: Jan 10, 1983
DECIDED: Jun 24, 1983

ADVOCATES:
Deborah Bachrach - on behalf of the Appellant
Gordan Dean Booth, Jr. - for appellees
Gordon Dean Booth, Jr. - on behalf of the Appellees

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 10, 1983 in Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 24, 1983 in Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

The opinion in 81-1578, Shaw v. Delta Air Lines will be announced by Justice Blackmun.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Well, these cases come to us from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

New York's Human Rights Law forbids discrimination in employee benefit plans on the basis of pregnancy.

That state also has a Disability Benefits Law that requires employers to pay sick leave benefits to employees unable to work because of pregnancy.

A Section, 514(a) of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 which we call ERISA states that with certain exceptions it supersedes any state law insofar as that law relates to an employee benefit plan covered by ERISA.

And prior to the effective date of still another federal statute, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 which made discrimination based on pregnancy unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The appellee employers had benefit plans subject to ERISA that did not provide benefits to employees disabled by pregnancy.

The appellees brought these three separate declaratory actions in federal court alleging that the New York Human Rights Law was preempted by ERISA and the appellee airlines also alleged that the state's Disability Benefits Law was preempted.

And thus the issue here is that of preemption by the federal statute.

The Federal District Court held that the Human Rights Law was preempted and as to the Disability Benefits Law, the Court dismissed that portion of the complaint seeking relief from it.

The Second Circuit affirmed as to the Human Rights Law but as to the Disability Benefits Law, it held that the federal statute's exemption from preemption applied only when a benefit plan is an integral is maintained solely to comply with the state disability law.

In an opinion filed with the clerk today, we affirm in part and vacate in part those judgments.

We hold that both New York laws relate to an employee benefit plan within the meaning of Section 514(a).

We hold that the Human Rights Law is preempted only insofar as it prohibits practices that are lawful under federal law.

But we also hold that the disability benefits law is not preempted by ERISA and this decision is unanimous.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Thank you Justice Blackmun.