Harris v. Millennium Hotel
The same-sex partner of Debbie Harris was killed when a disgruntled former employee who had been fired returned to work with a gun and shot her. Under Alaska’s workers’ compensation law, the spouse of a person who dies from a work-related injury is eligible to receive survivor benefits, but same-sex partners are excluded from that legal protection. These benefits minimize disruption to family members who relied upon the deceased worker’s income. Debbie and her partner were in a committed relationship for more than a decade and would have married if they could have done so, but Debbie is barred from receiving the same financial protections as married heterosexual couples simply because she was in a same-sex relationship.
Lambda Legal is representing Debbie in her legal challenge that the State of Alaska’s exclusion of same-sex couples from survivor benefits violates the constitutional guarantees of equality secured by both the Alaska and U.S. constitutions. The proceeding names Millennium Hotel because it employed Debbie’s partner, but the legal challenge is against the State of Alaska’s exclusion of same-sex couples from survivor benefits.
- September 2012 Lambda Legal files legal papers with the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board commencing a constitutional challenge.