HRC in the News: A Progress Report on Gay Employee Health Benefits
October 17, 2011 by Paul Guequierre
HRC’s work is making a difference in the lives of LGBT Americans and their families across the country. Not only is our work on Capitol Hill and in state capitols across the country helping pass pro-equality legislation and stopping legislation harmful to our community, but our work is also making a difference in corporate board room and in our pocketbooks. Take a look at this piece from the New York Times titled A Progress Report on Gay Employee Health Benefits, which puts a spotlight on the unfair tax burden our community faces and what some employers are doing to make it right. While this is an issue we are all too familiar with, many people in this country are unaware of the excessive tax burdens we face. That’s beginning to change.
According to the New York Times article, “While many companies offer domestic partnership coverage — an important benefit on its own since same-sex couples’ unions are not recognized by the federal government — some pioneering organizations are extending an even more generous policy. They’re essentially reimbursing gay employees for the extra taxes they may incur as a result of that coverage, something that married heterosexual people don’t have to worry about.”
This emerging practice, called “grossing up,” and the introduction of legislation to address tax disparities, is happening in part because of our work at HRC. These are issues our legislative and Workplace teams work on every day. On Capitol Hill we are working with lawmakers to pass the Tax Parity for Health Beneficiaries Act, which would remove the tax penalty same-sex couples pay on employer provided health benefits. The article notes that HRC is continuing to work on getting this bill passed, but until that happens employees or their employers must pay the extra tax. This is where our work off Capitol Hill comes into play. In corporate America, our Workplace team, part of the HRC Foundation, works with companies to implement employment policies and practices that are fair to LGBT workers – policies like grossing up.
As we continue our fight to pass pro-equality legislation and LGBT-friendly employment policies and practices, we know our work is truly making a difference in LGBT workers’ lives. The New York Times knows it too. The article ends with this, “Wish your company’s name was on the list with a “Yes” next to it? The Human Rights Campaign has a proposal and other information on its Web site that employees can use to help build their case.
You can help us build our case. Talk to your human resources department about fair employment practices. Tell them about HRC’s work and refer them to us to help them make your company one of the Best Places to Work.
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