Advocates for Labor and Progressive Institutions

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Union Members Prevail In Challenge to Denial of Spousal Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses

November, 2011

A Maryland union representing public safety workers achieved victory in an arbitration challenging a county’s refusal to provide benefits to spouses of members who entered into valid, out-of-state marriages. 

The union, with the assistance of counsel from Bredhoff & Kaiser and from Lambda Legal, pursued a grievance on behalf of the members.  The union argued that the county’s refusal to provide employees with spousal benefits under the collective bargaining agreement that the union had negotiated was a violation of the agreement’s definition of “spouse,” the agreement’s nondiscrimination provisions, and a violation of Maryland law.  The arbitrator agreed with the union, and all county employees who are legally married to same-sex spouses are now entitled to spousal benefits.