January 28, 2014
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) has filed a charge of discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Brookdale Senior Living on behalf of Kerry Considine, an employee who was denied the right to put her wife, Renee Considine, onto her employer-provided health plan. That refusal, GLAD alleges, violates both state and federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in employment.
“Even after the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act, employers like Kerry’s are still discriminating against their gay employees by not providing them with the same spousal benefits their straight co-workers get,” said Janson Wu, GLAD staff attorney. “That’s not only unfair but illegal.”
Kerry Considine is a licensed physical therapist who has worked with seniors at Brookdale since October 2012. She and Renee, a graduate student studying to be a school guidance counselor, married on November 1, 2013 in Massachusetts. Shortly after their wedding, Kerry asked Brookdale’s human resources department to add Renee to her health plan.
“Our wedding day was the most perfect day. I take our vow that day to care for each other very seriously,” said Kerry. “So I was shocked and upset when the HR person informed me that Brookdale does not offer health insurance coverage to same-sex spouses, especially since Brookdale is a company that promotes health and wellness and care for others.”
Brookdale, a publicly-owned company, is the nation’s largest owner and operator of senior living communities, operating more than 550 senior living and retirement communities across the United States. It is headquartered in Tennessee.
The denial significantly affects Kerry and Renee’s lives. Renee currently has inadequate coverage through her student health plan and has had to pay for medical expenses out-of-pocket. She anticipates that after graduation, she may have to take a part-time guidance counseling job, without health insurance benefits, in order to get a foot in the door of the profession. The couple is also considering having a baby and worry about coverage for prenatal care for Renee.
The charge of discrimination filed by GLAD with EEOC argues that Brookdale’s action discriminates against Kerry on the basis of her sex, in violation of both the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Kerry is represented by GLAD attorney Janson Wu. Further information about Considine v. Brookdale Senior Living, including the charge and photos, is available here.