Gay steelworker sues Conshohocken plant over partner benefits

Posted: February 15, 2013

A WEST Conshohocken steelworker has sued his employer and the board of trustees of the Steelworkers Health and Welfare Fund for denying insurance coverage to the his husband.

The same-sex couple filed the suit in federal court Monday against the board and ArcelorMittal USA, a Chicago-based company that operates the Conshohocken steel mill where Bryce Ginther works as an industrial electrician.

Ginther, 54, married his partner of seven years, Kit Kineef, on May 15 in New York.

Ginther's benefits plan had no definition of a "spouse," so, on the same day he and Kineef were married, he submitted a request for his husband to be enrolled in his plan, the suit said. Kineef is also a plaintiff.

On Sept. 5, Ginther allegedly received an email that said same-sex marriage was not covered under his company's insurance.

Ginther retained a California-based law firm that specializes in how federal benefits law affects gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons, said his attorney, Julie Wilensky.

Wilensky said that Ginther's plan does not limit or define who a spouse is and that there's nothing in federal law that places a limit on the word "spouse," as it's used in the plan.

"You have to interpret the plan according to its language," she said. "They could have specified that spouse is your opposite-sex spouse, and they did not. The response he got that same-sex marriage is not recognized is inconsistent with what the plan says."

Requests for comment from ArcelorMittal and the board of trustees of the Steelworkers Health and Welfare Fund were not immediately returned.

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