Main | Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wall Street Journal: Employers Tell Gays They Must Marry To Keep Partner Benefits

We've seen this here and there over the last few years, but it's apparently becoming more common. Via the Wall Street Journal:
Over the past decade, a growing share of companies has offered coverage for gay employees and their partners as a way to provide equal benefits for couples who couldn’t legally wed. Others companies offer coverage more broadly to unmarried domestic partners, regardless of sexual orientation. Now, some employers who offer benefits targeting same-sex partners say it is only fair to require those couples to marry where legal, just as their straight co-workers must do to extend coverage. That is causing some consternation among gay and lesbian employees and their advocates, who say they could be vulnerable to discrimination. Because marriage certificates are public, the documents may end up “outing” an employee, says Selisse Berry, chief executive of Out and Equal, a workplace advocacy group for gay and lesbian employees. The majority of U.S. states lack antidiscrimination protection for gay and lesbian employees, so workers can be fired for their sexuality, advocates say. “No employee wants to have a benefit taken away, even if it is driven by this other sort of success,” says Jen Cornell, an employment attorney for Nilan Johnson Lewis in Minneapolis.
Verizon and Delta are among the companies reportedly phasing out unmarried same-sex partner benefits in states where same-sex marriage is legal. Others such as Google are offering partner benefits to all unmarried employees. Per the above-linked article, some companies now fear discrimination lawsuits from unmarried straight employees. (Tipped by JMG reader Dustin)

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