HRC Blog

FedEx to Offer Partner Benefits

After more than a decade since it publicly opposed them, Tennessee-based FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX), #59 on the Fortune 500 will offer domestic partner benefits to its employees starting in 2012. When the city and county of San Francisco passed its groundbreaking Equal Benefits Ordinance in the late 1990s, which requires city contractors to provide equal benefits for same-sex partners as for different-sex spouses of employees, one of the most vocal opponents was FedEx. The company lost its battle at the Supreme Court, and now provides partner benefits where required by law for contracting purposes (the company does not provide spousal benefits in states where same-sex marriage is recognized, since it is generally not subject to those states' insurance regulations). Since 2002, the HRC Foundation has pressured FedEx and other major businesses through the Corporate Equality Index and made the case for equal benefits as a sound and competitive business practice. A majority of Fortune 500 companies have offered domestic partner benefits since 2006. Since then, businesses in more conservative states and industries have added partner benefits and, more recently, same-sex spousal benefits. FedEx's partner benefits won't be available until 2012, and it is unclear whether the benefits will be offered to union employees or whether they'll recognize same-sex spouses. Nonetheless, FedEx's decision to provide equal benefits to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees with same-sex partners marks a significant change to a powerful American, multinational business once publicly recalcitrant on LGBT workplace equality. We will look to businesses such as ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), which top the Fortune 1000 list, to make the same smart decision. Regardless, we'll continue to partner with FedEx and companies like it to ensure that their benefits demonstrate current best practices, and to encourage them to join the coalition of 80 major businesses that support the federal Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act (H.R. 2625 / S. 1153) to end the unfair taxation of employer-provided benefits to same-sex partners and spouses.

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