PHILADELPHIA — A Conshohocken, Pa., steel worker and his husband filed suit in federal court in February after he was barred from adding his spouse to his health insurance plan in a case that is thought to be the first of its kind in the state, the Philadelphia Gay News reported.
Bryce Ginther and Kit Kineef filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Feb. 11, the paper said. Named as defendants are Ginther’s employer, ArcelorMittal, USA, the Steelworkers’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan and the board of trustees of the Steelworkers Health and Welfare Fund, the Philadelphia Gay News reported.
The case alleges a violation of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which governs the implementation of many private-sector plans.
Ginther and Kineef have been together seven years and married May 15 in New York. The same day, Ginther requested to add Kineef as a dependent to his plan, which does not limit the definition of “spouse” to an opposite-sex partner. Ginther is an industrial electrician at ArcelorMittal’s Conshohocken steel mill, and is a member of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, the Philadelphia Gay News said.
Kineef doesn’t have insurance, and Ginther began inquiring in early 2012 about adding him to his plan when they got married. Arcelor’s legal council declined the request citing the fact that state law in Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize civil unions and that even if it did, civil unions don’t render such a person eligible for spousal coverage.
The complaint requests that the court declare the defendants violated the plan, find that Kineef is an eligible dependent and enroll him in the plan retroactively to June 1. The filing also requests that the court award attorneys and litigation fees and that the board be liable to Ginther for $110 per day from Oct. 29, when he began requesting documents for an appeal.