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My company has denied my spouse benefits who does not work elsewhere because we do not have documentation that we are married, other than a marriage license. I do not own a home or file joint taxes with my husband. I do have a lease. They will not accept these as documentation and this is discriminatory. What are my legal options? This is a Fortune 500 company in which I pay for benefits.
Asked on March 6, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 2 years ago | Contributor
A marriage license is proof of marriage. Joint home ownership is not (what about renters? About a married couple moving into a home of them had previously owned or into their parents' home? etc.) and joint tax filing, while common, is not required for spouses.
Unfortunately, neither federal law nor your state's law makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of marital or family status, so you don't have an easy option--you can't, for example, file a discrimination claim, because legally, this is not discrmination.
You could file a lawsuit against your company seeking a declaratory judgment (court determination) that you are married and court order that you and your spouse be provided benefits. That can be expensive if you hire an attorney, or complex if you try to do it as your own lawyer ("pro se").
Another option is to go over the benefit's team head: e.g. contact the insurer directly, see what information they need, then present that to the team--and if they don't relent, to go upper management and ask them to intervene.