K-12 School District Facing Bias Lawsuit

May 20, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A State College (Pennsylvania) Area School District worker and her partner are suing the district alleging it discriminates in its employee-benefits policy.

A news report on StateCollege.com says the lawsuit filed by Kerry Wiessmann, an elementary-school counselor, and her partner Beth G. Resko alleges the district’s “refusal to provide Ms. Wiessmann and her partner … with the same family health benefits offered to other employees and their families violates their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, including the right to equal protection of the laws without regard to sexual orientation or sex, and the right to intimate association; as well as the Equal Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution.”  

The district policy cited in the suit makes full-time employees’ documented domestic partners eligible for district health benefits, but specifically excludes partners of the same gender, according to the news report. The suit notes that Wiessmann and Resko, her partner of more than 25 years, share their lives, home, financial obligations and parental duties for their two children. 

As a result of the discrimination, the suit says, Resko has not been allowed the benefits that would have been allowed someone in an opposite-gender relationship. The couple has faced “significant cost” for Resko’s health coverage, the lawsuit notes.

StateCollege.com reports Resko and Wiessmann are seeking a change in the benefits policy to grant equal treatment to same-sex domestic partners; preliminary and permanent relief that will allow Resko to receive benefits through Wiessmann’s health insurance; and unspecified compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees.