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KdelValle

Relationship Status Discrimination

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My employer recently gave me (Regional Property Manager) the task of hiring two assistants. It turns out they both are starting out making more money than I do because they do not need the company’s health insurance plan! Both new hires  are on their husbands’ health insurance plans. My boss divided up the amount the company would spend on their plans annually by 2080 work hours a year and tacked that amount onto my assistants’ hourly wages. 

 

Since I am single and not on a spouse’s health plan - both assistants are making a higher hourly wage than I am paid and I have been with the company two and 1/2 years. Is this not blatant discrimination against me because I am single?  

 

Please advise - thank you!

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In what state are you employed? Under federal law it is not illegal for an employer to discriminate based on marital status. It is illegal to do that in some states. So the state makes a difference. It also makes a difference exactly how the employer does this. If the employer would do the same thing for any employee who had other health coverage regardless of whether the employee is married or not then it is not discrimination based on marital status. It would be discrimination based on having or not having outside insurance.

 

Note that it is not necessarily unfair. If the total compensation works out the same — your wage plus what the employer spends on your insurance equals what the other two are getting in their paycheck without getting health insurance — then you are both being compensated the same. It's just that they get extra cash in their pocket that in your case the employer uses to pay for your health insurance. That strikes me as quite fair as the employer's total package of pay and benefits then is the same for all 3 of you.

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It is, in fact, becoming rather common for an employer to provide a financial incentive for an employee to go on a spouse's/partner's/parents insurer instead. My employer does not do so, but I am regularly asked if we do (I work in the Benefits office) by people who have had such a benefit in the past.

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9 hours ago, KdelValle said:

Is this not blatant discrimination against me because I am single?

 

Of course not.  You're both getting $X in benefits.  The difference is that, because they don't need your employer to provide health coverage, all of their benefits are coming in the form of wages, which your benefits are divided between wages and health coverage.  It has nothing to do with marital status.  Rather, it has to do with them having other health coverage.  They could just as easily be single and still covered on a parent's health insurance.

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On 7/18/2019 at 8:17 AM, pg1067 said:

 

Of course not.  You're both getting $X in benefits.  The difference is that, because they don't need your employer to provide health coverage, all of their benefits are coming in the form of wages, which your benefits are divided between wages and health coverage.  It has nothing to do with marital status.  Rather, it has to do with them having other health coverage.  They could just as easily be single and still covered on a parent's health insurance.

What if in the employee handbook it states “X company pays for 100% of your health insurance”? 

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On 7/18/2019 at 3:06 AM, Tax_Counsel said:

In what state are you employed? Under federal law it is not illegal for an employer to discriminate based on marital status. It is illegal to do that in some states. So the state makes a difference. It also makes a difference exactly how the employer does this. If the employer would do the same thing for any employee who had other health coverage regardless of whether the employee is married or not then it is not discrimination based on marital status. It would be discrimination based on having or not having outside insurance.

 

Note that it is not necessarily unfair. If the total compensation works out the same — your wage plus what the employer spends on your insurance equals what the other two are getting in their paycheck without getting health insurance — then you are both being compensated the same. It's just that they get extra cash in their pocket that in your case the employer uses to pay for your health insurance. That strikes me as quite fair as the employer's total package of pay and benefits then is the same for all 3 of you.

I work in California and the employee handbook states they pay for 100% of our health insurance policy. 

 

I thank everyone for their time & effort to reply! 

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On 7/20/2019 at 5:41 PM, KdelValle said:

What if in the employee handbook it states “X company pays for 100% of your health insurance”? 

Then they are, as far as you are concerned, doing what the handbook says they will do.

 

The others are being paid more because they have insurance elsewhere.  And NOT having insurance elsewhere is not a protected class.

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Okay, let's try it this way.


For easy arithmetic, let's say you get paid $10 per hour and you work 40 hours a week. In addition, your employer pays $100 a week for your health insurance.

 

The employer is paying $400 to you and $100 to the health insurance carrier; he is spending $500 a week on you.

 

Your co-worker who has health insurance elsewhere receives $12.50 per hour for 40 hours, and the employer pays nothing for their health insurance. $12.50 times 40 hours is still $500.

 

So the employer is spending the same amount on both of you; it just goes to two different places. (And btw, I guarantee you that the employer is in actual fact spending well over $100 a week in health insurance for you,)

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Got it - thank you (everyone!) for answering! I actually found out they offered it to one of the girls I hired (the extra per hour because not on company’s health insurance) but did not offer it to the other girl. Now that seems like discrimination to me but I guess it’s not my problem. Again, I’m grateful for the responses! 

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It's only ILLEGAL discrimination if the reason they offered it to one and not the other is based on race, religion, national origin, or other characteristic protected by law, and not because one is a better negotiator than the other, for example.

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