SkyWest Changes Policy to Offer Equal Travel Benefits to Gay and Lesbian Employees
(Palm Springs, California, March 8, 2010) - SkyWest Airlines has announced that it now is offering equal travel benefits to its Delta-dedicated gay and lesbian employees with a same-sex spouse or domestic partner, reversing a policy that prompted a warning letter from Lambda Legal in October of last year.
Lambda Legal sent a complaint letter to SkyWest and Delta Air Lines on behalf of SkyWest employee Gilbert Caldwell, explaining that the airlines' treatment of gay employees with a spouse or registered domestic partner violated the airlines' stated policies and California law.
"We're delighted that SkyWest has adopted a policy that recognizes the full dignity and worth of its married lesbian and gay employees," said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli. "Travel benefits are an important part of airline employees' overall compensation. Lesbian and gay workers deserve to be paid and treated equally for doing equal work, and California law requires it."
Caldwell, 57, works at Palm Springs International Airport and married his partner of almost 36 years in 2008. SkyWest's previous policy required Caldwell to pay a fare for his spouse, 72-year-old Rev. David Farrell, on SkyWest-operated Delta Connection flights and Delta Air Lines flights under a "companion" program designed for friends. Married heterosexual employees do not pay the fare for their spouses.
"All I wanted was for my employer to treat me the same as my heterosexual co-workers," said Caldwell. "I enjoy working for SkyWest and am proud of my role with the company. I'm relieved and gratified that I now will be treated as an equally valued employee."
After the California Supreme Court ruled in May 2009 that same-sex couples who married in California in 2008 remain married despite passage of Proposition 8, Lambda Legal launched its "Marriage Watch: California" project to ensure that married lesbian and gay people are treated fairly under California law. More information is available at http://www.lambdalegal.org/take-action/marriage-watch
Contact: Tom Warnke; 213-382-7600 ex 247;firstname.lastname@example.org
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.