A surviving gay widow and FedEx face off following the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage in what is most likely the first of many cases.
Lesley Taboada-Hall, who was a long-time FedEx employee with a pension plan, married Stacy Schuett in a California civil ceremony on June 19, 2013. Taboada-Hall died the next day of cancer. A few days later the Supreme Court ruled California’s Defense of Marriage Act banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.
Schuett put in a claim for survivor benefits, which the company denied as their plan language tracked the language of the Defense of Marriage Act and did not allow for benefits to go to same-sex couples.
Schuett sued. FedEx asked for summary judgment.
Courthouse News Service reports in “FedEx Must Face Gay Widow’s Benefits Suit” that one of Schuett’s claims will be allowed and FedEx must defend itself.
With pension plans being a large part of many people’s estate and retirement plans this is a very important case to watch. One of the reasons that advocates wanted same-sex marriage was for the very reason of receiving legal benefits that traditional couples are entitled to, such as survivor benefits.
While at the time of the marriage and Taboada-Hall’s death FedEx’s pension plan was in accordance with the law, a court could rule that they still have to pay benefits because the law the company relied on was declared to be unconstitutional.
Reference: Courthouse News Service (Jan. 6, 2016) “FedEx Must Face Gay Widow’s Benefits Suit”