Berkeley Law Provides Expertise in Legal Battle over “Healthy San Francisco”

For Immediate Release

Susan Gluss, UC Berkeley School of Law, 510.642.6936,
Melissa Rodgers, 510-643-4283,

Berkeley, CA—Aug 27, 2009… The Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security (CHEFS) at UC Berkeley School of Law, a key voice in the national healthcare reform effort, is playing a critical role in San Francisco’s effort to save its groundbreaking universal health care program, “Healthy San Francisco.”

In a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, Berkeley CHEFS’ Associate Director Melissa Rodgers, along with Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley, Jr. and Berkeley Law Professor Stephen Sugarman, argued on behalf of restaurants Zazie and Medjool that San Francisco’s Health Care Security Ordinance, which requires that employers spend a certain amount on employee health care benefits or pay into a city fund, “enables these restaurants to act responsibly by providing health insurance coverage for employees while maintaining their ability to compete economically.” 

“This is one of the easiest laws that I comply with as a restaurant owner,” said Jennifer Piallat, the owner of Zazie. “Now I can cover my employees without losing business to restaurants that charge lower prices because they don’t offer health benefits.”

The city opposes a High Court review of its universal health care program and filed briefs today to counter a petition by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (visit for details). The industry association is seeking to overturn an appellate circuit court ruling and invalidate portions of the health care program.

“The 9th Circuit decision should stand,” said Rodgers. “There is no ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) violation. Restaurants are already implementing the law with no evidence that it creates a burden on them, and we have seen that it does not hurt business.”

Medjool, a member of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, has provided health insurance to its full-time employees since 2006. Its owner Gus Murad also favors the program and said, “Healthy San Francisco is simply good for the health and welfare of the city.”

About the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security
Housed at the UC Berkeley School of Law, the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security (Berkeley CHEFS) was founded in 2008 to develop integrated and interdisciplinary policy solutions to problems faced by American workers and families.  Programs address increasing access to health care, improving protections for workers on leave from their jobs, supporting workers in flexible workplaces, and ensuring that seniors are secure during retirement.  Visit for more information. Read brief here:

University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
For over a century, Berkeley Law has prepared lawyers to be skilled and ethical problem-solvers. The law school’s curriculum—one of the most comprehensive and innovative in the nation—offers its J.D. and advanced degree candidates a broad array of nearly 200 courses. Students collaborate with leading scholars and practitioners working on complex issues at more than a dozen interdisciplinary centers, institutes, and clinical programs within its Boalt Hall complex. For more information, visit