Wednesday, July 6, 2011

UPDATE: Same Sex Partner Benefits Partial Settlement

Things move pretty fast around here... you may remember back in May, a Case of the Week in which same-sex domestic partners sued the State College, PA school district because of alleged discrimination. Specifically, the school had a policy which provided benefits for spouses of employees, and domestic partners of employees who provided certain documentation (joint credit accounts, joint home ownership, mutually beneficial wills, etc.). But the policy expressly excluded domestic partners who were the same gender.

The school district initially said the policy was part of a collective bargaining agreement and that they would consider a change if it was brought to the bargaining table. Now, not even two months after the Complaint was filed, the Centre Daily Times reports a partial settlement:
The ACLU of Pennsylvania announced that a vote by the State College Area School Board to extend health insurance benefits to same-sex partners of its employees will partially settle a discrimination lawsuit brought against the school district by the ACLU . . . . [T]he district also will add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to anti-discrimination policies.
This doesn't completely resolve the conflict, however, as the parties are still negotiating outstanding damages claims.

Because the policy expressly discriminated against same sex couples, I think it would have been a tough case for the school district to litigate. Looks like we'll never know. The ACLU was involved here, so I wonder if they have similar cases against other school districts. Drop a comment if you know of any. Thanks!

Image: That's a picture of a State College sunset as viewed from Mount Nittany. It's symbolic of the sun setting on this lawsuit (or just the closest thing to a good picture of downtown State College that I could find on my phone's photos...).

Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.