I did not find that ruling particularly noteworthy. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit had reached a similar result in a case involving a Maryland law that required Wal-Mart to provide health care coverage for its employees. However, today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stayed that district court order and permitted San Francisco to enforce its ordinance. The San Francisco Chronicle summarized the opinion as follows:
[I]n today's ruling, the appeals court said San Francisco has not required any employer to adopt a health plan or provide specific benefits, as long as the company complies with the ordinance by paying a fee.This issue is destined for U.S. Supreme Court review.
To comply, "employers need not have any (health) plan at all; and if they do have such a plan, they need not make any changes in it," Judge William Fletcher said in the 3-0 ruling.
He also said the hardships that the city and its residents would suffer from a delay in implementation would be far greater than the harm to restaurant owners from having to abide by the ordinance during the appeal process.
"Otherwise-avoidable human suffering, illness and possibly death will result if a stay (of White's ruling) is denied," Fletcher said.