Garden State Judge OKs Lesbian Couple Consortium Claim

May 16, 2005 ( - A New Jersey Superior Court judge has ruled that a lesbian couple can pursue a loss of consortium claim against one partner's employer over allegations the partner's worksite was so hostile that it interfered with their home life.

Superior Court Judge James Rothschild Jr. ruled that claims by plaintiffs Linda Henry and Judith Peterson should be treated the same as those from married couples, according to a report on the Web site. The women have been together for nine years and registered in August 2004 under New Jersey’s domestic partner law.

According to the report, the women’s suit centers on charges that discrimination against Henry, a paramedic at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, New Jersey, got so severe it caused her to suffer a heart attack and other problems. Henry said she complained about what she said was a hostile work environment and that the hospital responded by giving her less desirable work shifts and subjected her to other means of what she said was retaliation.

The physical and emotional impact on Henry denied Peterson “spousal attention,” according to the allegations.

Rothschild said in his ruling that the law on consortium claims has evolved over the years and he cited the Domestic Partnership Act, but added that damages could be considered only after the date that Henry and Peterson filed as domestic partners.