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30 companies ask Supreme Court to hear the Utah same-sex marriage case

Written by Staff

Thirty U.S. companies joined to file an amici brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Utah’s Kitchen v. Herbert same-sex marriage case.

The companies expressed to the court that, in their desire to attract and retain a talented workforce, they are required to differentiate in treatment of employees depending on what state that employee lives in. They call the discrepancy a “complicated and uncertain landscape of laws and human resources regulations that increase our administrative costs and level of risk.”

“In addition, this irresolution hampers our efforts to recruit and retain the most talented workforce possible, placing us at a competitive disadvantage. Our success depends upon the welfare and morale of all employees, without distinction. The burden — imposed by inconsistent state laws — of having to administer complicated schemes to account for differential treatment of similarly situated employees creates unnecessary confusion, tension, and ultimately, diminished employee morale,” the brief states.

“We are forced to implement inconsistent policies in the various jurisdictions in which we operate, and the mandated discrimination underlying these policies violates our stated corporate principles. Our ability to grow and maintain our businesses by attracting and retaining the best talent is hindered. This patchwork of state laws applicable to same-sex marriage impairs thus our business interests and employer-employee relations.”

“Adopting a uniform rule allowing same-sex couples to marry would provide our employees with clear legal status. That recognition is also better for business, because it reduces uncertainty and risk, removes administrative obstacles, improves employee productivity, and encourages economic growth and innovation,” the brief continues.”

The brief states that 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies provide non-discrimination protection for their employees and 67 percent offer benefits to same-sex partners.

“Our experience teaches us that teamwork thrives when the organization minimizes distracting differences, and focuses on a common mission. The mandate of inconsistent state same-sex marriage bans—that we single out some of our married colleagues, based on the gender of their spouses and their states of residence, and treat them as a lesser class—upsets this imperative,” the brief states.

“Working in an LGBT-supportive workplace results in “greater job commitment, improved workplace relationships, increased job satisfaction, improved health outcomes, and increased productivity” among LGBT employees.”

“Nondiscrimination policies are crucial the recruitment and retention of excellent employees. In turn, hiring the best people helps us build teams and corporate cultures that allow us to create, innovate, and ultimately increase our profits and economic value. State laws alternately celebrating and condemning same-sex marriage conscript us, as the administrators of state benefits, to become the face of a law that demands we treat our employees in committed same-sex relationships in “non-recognition” states differently from employees married to different-sex spouses and same-sex spouses in “recognition” states, our stated policies notwithstanding. We must perpetuate the unequal effects of those laws, “in visible and public ways.” Even if we take on the burden of developing workarounds to ameliorate disparate and uncertain state treatment, we are still placed in the role of intrusive inquisitor, imputer of taxable income, and withholder of benefits. We are required to place those employees “in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage,” thereby demeaning the couple and their relationship. For all employees in same-sex marriages, we must propagate the message from “non-recognition” states that these employees and their relationships are not “worthy of dignity in the community equal with all other marriages.”

“In abiding by inharmonious and discriminatory state laws, we become complicit in our employees’ injury—and our own,” the brief concludes.

The brief is signed by:

  • Alcoa, Inc.
  • Amazon.com, Inc.
  • Aspen Skiing Company
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Bloomberg L.P.
  • CBS Corp.
  • Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Cummins, Inc.
  • Deutsche Bank AG
  • Eastern Bank Corp.
  • eBay, Inc.
  • General Electric Co.
  • Intel Corp.
  • Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, LLC
  • Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.
  • NIKE, Inc.
  • Oracle America, Inc.
  • Outerwall, Inc.
  • Pfizer, Inc.
  • Qualcomm, Inc.
  • Staples, Inc.
  • State Street Corp.
  • Sun Life Financial (U.S.) Services Co.
  • Support.com
  • Symantec
  • Target
  • United Therapeutics Corp.
  • Viacom, Inc. (MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo, Comedy Central, more.)

 The full brief is available here (PDF).


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