Same-sex couple files complaint they were denied health insurance benefits

A metro Detroit same-sex couple says they were denied health insurance. 

Stephanie Citron says she has been a dedicated long-time employee of Kroger. But when Citron tried to add her wife Elizabeth Gardiner to her benefits the couple says they got a rude awakening.

Citron and Gardiner were legally married in Oakland County in March of last year and are raising a young daughter, Alexis, together.

"We just thought it would be easier because our marriage was recognized federally and by the state," Gardiner said. "And we were disillusioned that they had had put a clause in there specifically discriminating against us."

A press conference was held Thursday to announce that the couple will file an EEOC complaint after the health and welfare fund denied health insurance benefits to spouses in same sex marriages.

"We've had some results already," said attorney Andrea Johnson. "We know yesterday the fund changed the language of the plan itself so that same sex spouses are now included for healthcare benefits at Kroger. But we also hope that they are made whole because there was a period when they had to pay their Cobra benefits, more expensive benefits and we hope they are made whole in that way.

"And we hope they are made whole for the indignity they had to suffer by having to come forward with this."

Fox reached out to Kroger and a spokesperson said: 

"Kroger's Company-sponsored benefits plan has included same and opposite-sex domestic partner benefits since January 2008. This policy is consistent with our company's core values in that it supports a work environment that respects all associates, promotes diversity, and increases our ability to attract and retain the best talent in our industry."

Citron and her attorney say they hope the complaint brings more awareness about the responsibility companies have to all their employees.

"With the pending marriage equality decision  this is going to be a bigger issue," Johnson said. "There may be thousands more same sex couples here and they may want benefits."
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