NY Justice to Mayor: Enforce Domestic Partner Benefits Law

November 12, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) -A New York State Supreme Court justice has handed the city a legal defeat by ruling Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration has to force certain firms doing city business to give employees' domestic partners equal benefits with spouses.

Justice Faviola Soto city agreed with the New York City Council that the city has to follow the controversial Equal Benefits Law and force companies to ante up the same level of benefits to domestic partners, the New York Times reported.

The law, which took effect October 26, forces businesses with city contracts over $100,000 to provide health insurance, bereavement and other benefits to domestic partners, if the firms already give that level of benefits to employees’ married spouses.

The law applies only to businesses that secure city contracts after the law takes effect, not current contract holders. It was passed in the spring, and would have New York join other major cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles, with similar statutes.

However, the Bloomberg Administration had vigorously fought the law, arguing it would prove costly to taxpayers because it would limit its ability to select low-cost bidders for city work (See Segal Analyzes Impact of NYC Domestic Partner Requirement ). After the City Council passed it, Bloomberg vetoed it, but the Council overrode the veto.

Even as the city moves ahead with an expected appeal, the two sides will now begin to work out how the law should be carried out.

Domestic partnership benefits were extended to city employees in the 1990’s. The law will have a broad effect, as thousands of companies have contracts of $100,000 or more with the city.