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November President’s Letter

    Defense of Marriage Act

    On October 18, 2012, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional.  With this latest decision, there are implications that will affect employment law and specifically the area of benefits.  Some of the significant areas are:

    1. Prevention or restriction of access to spousal health care benefits
    2. Denial of benefits that are provided to married couples when a worker suffers a workplace injury or becomes ill
    3. A complete denial of social security benefits upon retirement
    4. Restrictions on immigration and naturalization laws for same-sex couples seeking to work and remain in the United States

    Some of the ramifications to hiring qualified applicants are far reaching and speak to disparate treatment.  Same sex couples are still denied medical and dental insurance under the Domestic Partner umbrella (employer’s choice).  When these benefits are offered, there are income taxes imposed that are not otherwise on other married couples.   Same sex couples are denied benefits such as COBRA and FMLA protection as well as different rights for their pension as defined by ERISA.

    When we are hiring qualified applicants, these barriers may interfere with obtaining qualified applicants for our positions.  Same-sex couples are looking to find the same benefits as different-sex couples. 

    Our role is simply to hire the best candidates available.  Looking back over the past 10 years, we as HR professionals have certainly had our fair share of legislation that tries to detract from our mission.  Do we follow the U.S. Constitution?  Do we follow our religious beliefs?  Where do we draw the line and when do politics focus on issues such as the country’s deficit or our homeless and aging populations.  I’m sure that many of us have our own views and biases in the area of politics.  The next few years will be challenging for all of us.  I’m sure that you realize that HR is no longer a position for the weak at heart.  We face more and more obstacles to what used to be a straightforward career.  I am looking forward to my own personal growth that will develop from the next few years relative to Health Care Reform and other issues like DOMA.

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    Our next meeting is a breakfast meeting on Thursday, November 15th at 7:30.  Please note the time change as there was a misprint on our website.

    I won’t be at the November meeting so in advance I would like to wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

    Until then, stay positive and when you can….pay it forward. 

    Rhonda R. Kelly, PHR

    Chapter President