Oregon Discrimination
5:50 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Former Federal Employee In Oregon Awarded Back Pay For Discrimination

A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel has awarded back pay to a former federal law clerk in Oregon who was denied health benefits for her same-sex domestic partner. 

A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel has awarded back pay to a former federal law clerk in Oregon who was denied health benefits for her same-sex domestic partner.
A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel has awarded back pay to a former federal law clerk in Oregon who was denied health benefits for her same-sex domestic partner.
Credit Ken Lund / Flickr

It’s been more than two years since a U.S. District judge ordered that Gosia Fonberg be reimbursed for her partner's health coverage.

Fonberg has been fighting for that money ever since.

But in March of this year, the judge rescinded her original order, saying Fonberg's partner wasn't eligible for the benefits because the two were not legally married.

On Monday, an executive committee of the 9th Circuit disagreed. It said federal employees should not be treated unequally based on the “vagaries of state law.” This refers to Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage.

The panel awarded Fonberg back pay, plus interest. 

Fonberg learned about the decision by email.

"It’s a huge relief, and I was pretty excited to read it," says Fonberg. 

The ruling has no direct impact on Oregon law, but Fonberg says other courts may look to the 9th circuit judges’ decision.

Copyright Oregon Public Broadcasting 2013.