Appeal of A&J Beverage Distribution, Inc.Annotate this Case
Respondent A&J Beverage Distribution, Inc. appealed decisions of the Department of Labor (DOL) brought under the Whistleblowers' Protection Act by Petitioner Kevin Perrier. Petitioner worked for A&J as a truck driver. When he first started working, Petitioner did not participate in the company health plan. When premiums increased, Petitioner opted out of the plan. In 2009, rates decreased, and Petitioner claimed he was not informed of the decrease. When he sought information on the plan at that time, the company refused to give it to him. Petitioner notified the company that he had contacted the federal Department of Labor to learn more about his rights under ERISA with regard to notification of the company health plan. A&J then gave Petitioner the requested information, but shortly thereafter, he was terminated. The New Hampshire DOL hearing officer ruled that Petitioner "sustained his burden of proof to show that he was discharged in retaliation for having exercised his legitimate rights under the law." On appeal, A&J asserted preemption: that the whistleblower claim was preempted by ERISA. Upon review, the Supreme Court vacated the DOL's decision: "while the petitioner correctly notes that state and federal courts have concurrent jurisdiction over actions... his whistleblower claim is not such an action. ... [the Court] reject[ed] the petitioner's argument that DOL had jurisdiction over the petitioner's ERISA claim."