:: Discrimination Claims Or Benefit Claims? The ERISA Preemption Divide

“It is not the label placed on a state law claim that determines whether it is preempted, but whether in essence such a claim is for the recovery of an ERISA plan benefit.”
Lockett v. Marsh United States, 2009 FED App. 0759N (6th Cir.) (6th Cir. Ohio Dec. 3, 2009) (citing, Peters v. Lincoln Elec. Co., 285 F.3d 456 (6th Cir. 2002)

This recent unpublished decision from the Sixth Circuit draws on prior authority in that Circuit on the question of when employment law claims tread too closely to ERISA’s domain and thus are preempted by the broad reach of that statutory regime.  In this case, the plaintiff sued on state law theories of discrimination and retaliation but the facts she alleged were found tilted toward a claim for severance benefits which in turn warranted preemption