The Atlantic published an online article describing how “even in states that recognize gay marriage, some same-sex couples are denied health insurance benefits by their employers.” The article chronicles the difficulty a Walmart employee faced when trying to obtain benefit coverage for her same-sex spouse.
During open enrollment, year after year, the employee attempted to add her spouse to her health insurance plan. In 2013, when the federal Defense of Marriage Act was overturned, the employee tried again but was still denied spousal coverage. In 2013, Walmart changed its policy to allow coverage for same-sex spouses beginning in 2014. By then, however, the employee’s spouse had amassed more than $100,000 in medical expenses.
There is a lot more to the story including the EEOC’s assertion that there was reasonable cause to believe Walmart discriminated against the employee and her spouse because of their sex and their agreement to enter conciliation with the couple.
This article isn’t really about Walmart’s legal woes, however, it’s about whether your organization is prepared for the challenges it will face in the coming years. If it’s not, a good place to begin preparation is with a thorough review of your employment policies. Are they legally compliant? Are they progressive enough for our ever-changing world? If they are, my hat is off to you. If they’re not, though, check out these BLR resources:
- Benefits Resource Center
- 50 State Comparison Charts
- 2014 Policy Practices Survey