May 05, 2004
Category: Domestic Partners
HRC Report: Companies Offering Domestic Partner Benefits Increase Despite Economic Challenges
New Workplace Report Also Shows Sharp Increase in Company Policies Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Gender Identity
WASHINGTON - U.S. businesses are continuing to extend domestic partner health insurance benefits to gay and lesbian workers, with an average of three employers per day adding such coverage in 2003, according to an analysis released today by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The report also shows a sharp increase in company policies prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
"Companies across America continue to recognize that a key to success is treating employees equally," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "By adding benefits and protections during a stormy economy, the private sector continues to demonstrate that treating employees fairly is good for the bottom line."
Overall, 1,067 private employers and colleges and universities added domestic partner benefits in 2003, including 25 of the Fortune 500, according to "The State of the Workplace for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans 2003." Thus, at the end of 2003, a total of 200 Fortune-listed companies, or 40 percent, offered domestic partner health insurance benefits.
"Companies that already offer domestic partner benefits are well-positioned to deal with legal marriage for same-sex couples," said Kim I. Mills, HRC's education director and editor of the report. "Companies that have yet to offer the benefits are well-advised to move forward."
The report found that the number of private employers offering DP benefits rose by 18 percent in 2003, the same rate as in 2002.
The report addresses the impact to employers of marriage for same-sex couples as well as proposed anti-marriage amendments at the state and federal level. The report notes that statewide and federal anti-marriage laws could restrict competitiveness for companies and decrease their flexibility to define their benefits programs.
"Employers that have implemented domestic partner benefits are likely to be prepared for scenarios in which an employee marries a same-sex partner and asks that the partner be treated as equal to a spouse by their employer for benefits eligibility," said Daryl Herrschaft, deputy director for HRC WorkNet and the report's lead author.
Herrschaft added: "There's also a positive trend regarding company policies that protect transgender employees against discrimination. The report shows that big business is definitely listening to calls for equal protection."
In 2003, 11 Fortune 500 companies modified their non-discrimination policies to include gender identity and/or expression, bringing the total to 26. This compares to 15 in 2002 and represents a 73 percent increase.
Some of the reports other findings include:
ﾴTwelve cities and counties added health care benefits for public employees' same-sex partners in 2003, bring the total at yearend to 175, a 12 percent increase. The increase in 2002 was 6 percent.
ﾴSeventy-two percent, or 360, of the Fortune 500 companies included sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies at the end of 2003, even though sexual orientation is not a protected category under federal law. This compares to 333 in 2002 and represents an 8 percent
ﾴHalf of all states and the District of Columbia provided some level of protection from sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace last year. Eleven states cover their public employees and 14 states extend protections to the private sector.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.