The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a San Francisco benefits law, which requires companies with city contracts or leases to provide the same benefits to unmarried employees and their partners as they do to married couples. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the decision will have “far-reaching effects” and is a positive sign for cities that are considering similar laws. The ordinance was challenged by a S.D. Myers, Inc, an Ohio electrical company, who refused to comply with the law on religious grounds.
HRC education director Kim I Mills said the law has been “a model for other cities that are committed to workplace equality for their lesbian and gay citizens.” Several have passed similar laws, including Seattle, Los Angeles, Berkeley, CA., and San Mateo, CA. The law has also created a “cascade effect” through major market sectors, beginning with commercial airlines, banking, oil and gas. The HRC WorkNet reports that more than 3,700 U.S. employers currently offer such benefits.