05/10/2012 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Domestic Partner Benefits: Crossing the Minefield
(Law Office of Michael DelTergo)
The growing trend toward employers providing domestic partner benefits to their employees shows no sign of abating. As more employers consider adopting LGBT-friendly benefit policies, they confront questions regarding eligibility, verification issues, plan amendments, tax compliance, civil rights issues, compliance with ever-changing state and municipal law, and even new requirements for companies seeking certain government contracts. Companies that have adopted domestic partner policies will have to deal with eligibility, compliance, and tax reporting issues that they did not have before. Moreover, the domestic partnership landscape has been changing constantly as more municipalities add domestic partner registries and impose new requirements on contractors, and as more states recognize gay marriage. This session covers:
• How various states and municipalities recognize domestic partnerships;
• Federal law treatment of domestic partner benefits;
• State law treatment of domestic partner benefits;
• Tax and reporting requirements;
• Policy creation and communication;
• Special situations affecting government contractors;
• Verification and audit issues; and
• Civil rights issues.
Even in companies that have adopted policies to provide coverage for domestic partners, some plans contain terms that limit eligibility in order to control costs, limit benefits to DPs that have the attributes of traditional marriage, or to comply with government mandates. Consequently, a plan’s eligibility criteria may exclude the partners of some LGBT employees and/or the dependents of an employee’s partner. When that happens, there exists the potential for disputes between the LGBT community and the employer, resulting in negative publicity, pressure from government actors and special interest groups, and threats of legal action. This session will include case studies that discuss how such disputes may arise, who the various third-party actors are, legal considerations, and how potential PR disasters can be managed.