What Is Good for the Goose . . . Employers Oppose Federally Mandated Inequality

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn February 28, 2013In: Discrimination, Employee Engagement

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The United States Supreme Court will hear argument next month in United States v. Windsor, which addresses the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Nearly 300 private-sector employers joined forces in opposition to the law, filing a joint amici brief.  Among the employers who oppose the law are Citigroup, Google, Facebook, and Starbucks, reports the L.A. Times.Employers Oppose DOMA

The employers voice a number of objections to the law, all arising from the conflict between state and federal law.  Twelve states and the District of Columbia now recognize same-sex marriages.  But federal law, pursuant to DOMA, prohibits the recognition of same-sex unions.

This contradiction puts employers—particularly those operating in multiple states—in a difficult position as they attempt to reconcile what they must do according to state law, what they must not do according to federal law, and, for many employers, what they want to do according to their own policies of anti-discrimination. 

We discussed a similar conundrum in October of last year, when Nordstrom, Amazon, Microsoft, Nike, and others, took a stand in favor of Seattle’s same-sex law, Referendum 74. A similar theme is heard in the Windsor briefing—smart employers know that equality and fairness are essential to a productive and efficient workforce.  Employers lose when employees are treated unequally in the workplace. 

So it makes sense that smart employers would speak out in opposition to government-imposed inequality.

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