UPS Backs Down On Gay Move

Wed. August 20, 2003 12:00 AM by

San Francisco, California - United Parcel Service moved quickly Tuesday to settle a discrimination suit by one of its gay employees and his partner.

Daniel Kline, who has worked for UPS for more than two decades, and his partner of 27 years, Frank Sories filed notice of the suit earlier in the day, contending the company illegally discriminates against its lesbian and gay employees by not including them in a corporate policy that lets married employees relocate to another city to avoid having their families broken apart when their loved ones have job transfers.

In January, Sories was transferred from San Francisco to Chicago by his employer, United Airlines, when its office in San Francisco closed. Kline applied for a transfer to UPS's Chicago branch under the company's "Management Initiated Transfer Request" policy. Kline's transfer was approved at district and regional levels, but was ultimately rejected by the corporation because the men are gay and therefore not legally married to each other.

UPS is the world's largest package delivery company and the nation's fourth largest employer, with 320,000 employees in the U.S. The company has a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, but it only offers health insurance to some employees' same-sex domestic partners.

"UPS's policy is intended to help loyal employees keep their families intact , but it wrongly excludes certain types of families, forcing people like our clients to choose between their lifelong partners and their lifelong careers," said Lambda Legal lawyer Jon W. Davidson.

"This kind of blatant and unabashed discrimination is clearly illegal. UPS doesn't have to let its employees relocate to stay with their families, but if the company offers this benefit to straight employees, it also has to offer it to gay employees."

"I just want to live with the man whom I've spent that last 27 years of my life with," Kline said when the suit was launched. "Even though it's been eight months since we lived under the same roof, I'm still surprised and disappointed every day that I come home from work and he isn't there. I know that I'm not truly home unless he's with me."

Tuesday night the company said it would transfer Kline to Chicago.

In a short statement the company said that it had attempted to contact Kline and Lambda before the court papers were filed to tell them the transfer had been approved.

The UPS statement said that a policy to permit the relocation for domestic partners went into effect earlier this year.

Although the company says it tried to avoid litigation as early as September, Lambda at a news conference earlier Tuesday where it announced the suit, said that "over the last several months, UPS has declined the couple's offer to drop any legal action including any damages claims if the company allowed Kline to relocate to Chicago and include other employees with domestic partners in the transfer policy.'

Kline has worked for UPS for more than 20 years and is nine years away from being eligible for retirement benefits. He and Sories met when they were both in the Army and later began a committed relationship.

Kline's lawyer said that his client was was "thrilled" about the company's decision, but cautioned that it was too soon to say whether his client would drop the suit.

by Matt Johns Newscenter
Los Angeles Bureau
©® 2003

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.