Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

February 3, 2005

Info Sought on Domestic Partner Criteria

The Senate anti-discriminatory policies committee wants more information on the eligibility criteria for the recently offered domestic partner employee benefit.

In September, Pitt announced it would begin offering health insurance benefits for eligible same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners of employees beginning Jan. 1. (See Sept. 2 University Times.)

Anti-discriminatory policies committee chair Thomas Buchele reported at Faculty Assembly this week that his committee is seeking information on behalf of one employee who challenged the application of the criteria.

When the benefit was announced last fall, the committee applauded Pitt’s administration for its decision, Buchele said at Tuesday’s Assembly.

“But sometimes ‘the devil’s in the details,'” he said. “When the University announced the criteria for the benefits in November, the committee had some questions about the criteria. We’ve also had one complaint about how the criteria are applied. We’re looking into the complaint and at the criteria.” He declined to specify what was being challenged.

Buchele told the University Times that the committee plans to compare Pitt’s criteria with those of other local and state universities, including Carnegie Mellon and Temple.

Pitt’s criteria for eligibility are identical to the criteria the University put in place in the early 1990s when it began offering limited benefits, such as library privileges, to same-sex domestic partners, said Buchele, who is a clinical assistant professor of law. “But a lot has changed since the early ’90s. The University may have perfectly good reasons for the criteria. I have no indication that they don’t. We just want to hear their rationale. The purpose of my comments was to alert [Faculty Assembly] that, if they had any concerns about the criteria, to pass them on to our committee, to let them know we were looking into this. Nothing more.”

He added that the administration has been responsive to his request. “They didn’t say, ‘no.’ They’re just looking for the right way to get that information to us,” perhaps in a closed committee setting, he said.

Buchele said that the anti-discriminatory policies committee also asked for data on the total number of employees who had signed up for the new benefit, but had not received that information as yet.

A similar request in January by the University Times to the Office of Human Resources was denied. In a Jan. 3 e-mail response to that request, Ron Frisch, Human Resources associate vice chancellor, stated, “We are doing everything within our power to protect the confidentiality of the folks that enrolled this past period for domestic partner benefits. One of our commitments was to protect the number of individuals that enrolled, so we are not releasing that number.”

-Peter Hart

Leave a Reply