Wal-Mart won a major victory this summer in the continuing battle against state lawmakers who want to impose benefit mandates on U.S. employers. Only time will tell whether that victory discourages other state legislatures from pursuing similar actions.
The Maryland law would have forced certain large employers (more than 10,000 employees) to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on employee health care. The law was written so that it applied to only one employer: Wal-Mart.
But the court tossed out the law, ruling that it illegally trumps the federal law that oversees benefit programs, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
Labor unions had hoped the Maryland law would become a model for other state actions. This ruling, which the state of Maryland is appealing, may be a blow to such mandates, for now.