Main | Wednesday, December 04, 2013

WASHINGTON: Two Gay Couples Sue Railroad Over Spousal Benefits

Two gay couples in Washington state are suing BNSF Railway after having been denied spousal health benefits. BNSF is the nation's second-largest freight rail company.
The lawsuit, which alleges violations of the federal Equal Pay Act, seeks class-action status on behalf of any other BNSF employees who may have been denied benefits for their same-sex spouses in a legally recognized marriage. It says the same-sex spouses have been denied benefits provided routinely to those of opposite sex. "I was told many times by BNSF, 'marriage is one man, one woman,'" Hall said. "I told them, 'Not in Washington state.' They still told me no." Hall, 30, has worked for BNSF for three years. He drives mile-long freight trains from the Seattle area to Pasco, Vancouver, and back to Seattle. His husband, Elijah Hall Uber, has HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and going without health coverage for him has deprived the couple of $2,400 per month in coverage of medication costs, the lawsuit said. Elijah Hall Uber has found coverage through Washington state, but that will run out soon.
A spokesman for the company is blaming the employees' union, saying that the company cannot "unilaterally" make changes to collective bargaining agreements. (Tipped by JMG reader Whabbear)

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