1. Free Legal Help, Legal Forms and Lawyers. TheLaw.com has been providing free legal assistance online since 1995. Our most popular destinations for legal help are below. It only takes a minute to join our legal community!

    Dismiss Notice

Health Coverage - Domestic Partner

Discussion in 'Employee Benefits, Pensions' started by Bill1979, Sep 28, 2020.

  1. Bill1979

    Bill1979 Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Jurisdiction:
    New York
    I work for a private company that provides insurance coverage for same-sex domestic partners but not opposite sex domestic partners. I realize that coverage for any domestic partnership is not legally mandated by federal law but curious about this current set-up since NYS recognizes same sex marriage, why can company choose to offer benefits to one group of people and not another?
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

    Messages:
    33,000
    Likes Received:
    5,229
    Trophy Points:
    113

    When you discussed your concerns with your employer's benefits administrator, what were you told?

    I've found I receive the best answers to my questions when I ask the source's mouth, not the terminus of her/his alimentary canal.
     
  3. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,477
    Likes Received:
    836
    Trophy Points:
    113

    That difference was arguably legal prior to the Supreme Court's decision that held that discrimination based on sexual orientation is discrimination based on sex and thus violates the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. But after that decision by the Court offering to cover homosexual couples but not heterosexual couples simply because of their sexual orientation would appear to violate federal law, assuming your company has at least 15 employees. And to the extent that NY state law adopts the same definitions for it's anti-discrimination law that the federal government does, it would likely violate NY law, too. That would leave the company with a choice: either pull the plug on offering benefits to any employee in a domestic partnership and just offer it to married couples or offer it to all employees who are in a domestic partnership.

    Prior to the Supreme Court recognizing a right to gay marriage your employer's position made sense because heterosexual couples could marry but homosexual couples could not. The registered domestic partnership was the closest thing that homosexual couples could get to being married. So giving the homosexual couple in a committed relationship the same benefits as a married straight couple was the way companies gave equal treatment (or as equal as they could make it, anyway). But now that that homosexual couples can marry just as easily as straight couples it no longer makes sense to keep that distinction with the domestic partnerships. For that reason, a number of companies now have reverted back to just offering spousal coverage to married employees and not covering those in domestic partnerships.
     
  4. Bill1979

    Bill1979 Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Judge...Haha. I was told that specifically that they do not cover and have no plans to cover domestic opposite in the future and do continue to offer the benefits to same-sex couples. we did not have a conversation about legal status of that position as I was avoiding starting a possible dicey conversation. Guess I was curious if anyone knew legal status of this position.
     
  5. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

    Messages:
    8,448
    Likes Received:
    1,588
    Trophy Points:
    113

    Your employer's policy is not legally supportable anymore. It was at one time, not that long ago, but it's in violation of law as things stand today.
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

    Messages:
    33,000
    Likes Received:
    5,229
    Trophy Points:
    113

    The post (as in post #3) above your post #4, and the post immediately after your post #4 (post #5) appear to provide the legal answer you sought.
     
  7. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,477
    Likes Received:
    836
    Trophy Points:
    113

    As I stated in my earlier post, that position by your employer, assuming the company employs at least 15 people, now amounts to illegal discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County declared that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of his/her sexual orientation or transgender status because that amounts to sex discrimation, and sex discrimination by employers is illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Court explains the result as follows:

    The statute's message for our cases is equally simple and momentous: An individual's homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. That's because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex. Consider, for example, an employer with two employees, both of whom are attracted to men. The two individuals are, to the employer's mind, materially identical in all respects, except that one is a man and the other a woman. If the employer fires the male employee for no reason other than the fact he is attracted to men, the employer discriminates against him for traits or actions it tolerates in his female colleague. Put differently, the employer intentionally singles out an employee to fire based in part on the employee's sex, and the affected employee's sex is a but-for cause of his discharge. Or take an employer who fires a transgender person who was identified as a male at birth but who now identifies as a female. If the employer retains an otherwise identical employee who was identified as female at birth, the employer intentionally penalizes a person identified as male at birth for traits or actions that it tolerates in an employee identified as female at birth. Again, the individual employee's sex plays an unmistakable and impermissible role in the discharge decision.

    Bostock v. Clayton Cty., Georgia, 140 S. Ct. 1731, 1741–42, 207 L. Ed. 2d 218 (2020).

    Thus, after that ruling (which was just decided on June 15) it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because the employee is gay, lesbian, or straight. So offering spouse/partner coverage to a gay employee in a registered domestic relationship but not to a straight employee in a registered domestic relationship is illegal discrimination.
     

Share This Page