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Civil Rights Lawyers At Sidney L. Gold & Associates Fight For Equal Rights For Same-Sex Couples In Lehigh County

July 3rd, 2014

Even before Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban was recently declared unconstitutional, many Pennsylvania same-sex couples entered into legal marriages by travelling out of state.  Unfortunately, not every Pennsylvania County has afforded equal rights for same-sex couples with legal marriage licenses from other states. With the assistance of the Pennsylvania discrimination attorneys at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, Lehigh County employee Robert Hopkins has filed suit against Lehigh County to change just that.

Hopkins, who entered a legal same-sex marriage in Maine last year, requested health care benefits from Lehigh County for his spouse.  Lehigh County denied his benefit request. Although the Lehigh County benefit plan does contain a clause stating that health benefits will be extended only to employees’ spouses from “marriages between persons of the opposite sex,” Hopkins alleges that in September 2013, Lehigh County informed all employees that spouses from same-sex marriages were eligible for health benefits provided there was a legal marriage.   Shortly thereafter, Lehigh County commissioners removed budgetary funding for same-sex spouse health benefits.  Despite an executive administrative order by former County Executive Matt Croslis restating the funding, the Lehigh County commissioners refused to enroll Hopkins’ spouse in the health plan.

Hopkins’ suit alleges that Lehigh County violated federal equal protection laws by failing to extend health care benefits to his legal spouse and intentionally excluding lesbian and gay public employees from these benefits.  In light of United States District Judge Jones’ recent ruling declaring Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, it is suspected the policies of Pennsylvania counties throughout the state with respect to same-sex marriage benefits will come under increasing scrutiny.  Lehigh County commissioners have indicated that should the Jones ruling remain the law, they will reconsider current county policy on this issue.  In the meantime, Hopkins is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, compensation for pain and suffering and legal costs in his suit.

The Philadelphia Civil Rights Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates Assist Individuals Receive Compensation for their Discrimination Claims

Employers unlawfully discriminate against their employees on many bases.  If you believe your rights are being violated due to your sexual orientation or because you are in a same-sex marriage, you may be entitled to compensation for your claim.  The experienced Pennsylvania discrimination attorneys at Sidney L. Gold & Associates handle a wide variety of civil rights matters including those related to gender discrimination, racial discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination.  We work to obtain the maximum compensation possible for our clients including payments for back wages, liquidated damages, intentional infliction of emotional distress and attorney fees and costs.

With offices conveniently located in Center City, Philadelphia, our dedicated employment lawyers serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  To schedule your confidential consultation today, call our law offices today at 215-569-1999 or submit an online contact form.

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