Special Delivery: California Woman Suing FedEx Over Late Wife’s Spousal Benefits
FedEx is the defendant in a lawsuit filed by a California woman who claims the speedy freighting company refused to recognize her marriage with another woman.
Leslie Taboada-Hall was a driver for FedEx who had put in 26 years with her employer prior to her death from uterine cancer on June 20, 2013. The timing of her passing was particularly significant, as Taboada-Hall died just six days before the Supreme Court ruled out a clause in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that had previously prevented gay marriages from being recognized on the federal level.
FedEx denied her wife, Stacey Schuett, the pension guaranteed by spousal benefits, to the tune of $400,000, as NBC News reported:
Some companies used DOMA to determine who qualified as a legal spouse for the purposes of paying survivor benefits.
Because Taboada-Hall died before the Supreme Court ruling, FedEx determined that her wife, Stacey Schuett, was not eligible as a spouse to receive the main pension benefit, lawyers for Schuett said. It did recognize Schuett as a spouse for smaller survivor benefits.
The couple, who had earlier registered as domestic partners, wed in Taboada-Hall’s hospital room on the day before she died. Gay marriage became legal in California because of a separate ruling on the day of the DOMA decision. A state judge later ruled that their marriage was valid.
Schuett’s lawyers say the Supreme Court ruling should apply retroactively. They sued in federal court.
“It’s not like DOMA became unconstitutional on June 26, 2013,” said Nina Wasow, one of Schuett’s lawyers. “The law was unconstitutional all along.”
After the DOMA ruling, the federal government decided that the same-sex spouses of public employees who died before the change was made retroactively qualified for benefits and recommended that private companies follow suit.
— Posted by Donald Kaufman.Wait, before you go…
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