The firm represents a same-sex couple, legally married in New York State but denied spousal medical benefits by an employer. The case, filed as a state-wide class action, names St. Joseph's Medical Center and the hospital's benefits administrator, Empire Blue Cross & Blue Shield. According to the complaint, after the couple was legally married in New York, one of the plaintiffs applied to have her spouse added to her medical coverage plan. The hospital denied the request based on its policy specifically excluded same-sex spousal benefits.
Despite the fact that states such as New York legally recognize same-sex marriages, many employers continue to deny benefits relying on the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"), a federal law which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. Because employee benefits are governed by federal law, employers can ignore state law when it comes to a number of matters, including health benefits.
This action challenges DOMA as discriminatory and unconstitutional based on principals of equal protection as well as states' rights under the Tenth Amendment. The proposed class includes all married same-sex individuals in New York who are covered by Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and were denied medical coverage by their employers.
To view press coverage of Roe v. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, et al., please use the following links:
The New York Times:
The New York Post: