The widow of a gay FedEx employee has
sued the Tennessee-based shipping company for refusing to provide her
with federally required spousal pension benefits.
Stacey Schuett and Lesly Taboada-Hall
were together 30 years before they married on June 19, 2013 as
Taboada-Hall lay in a hospital bed in their home in Sebastopol,
California surrounded by their two children, family and friends.
Taboada-Hall died from uterine cancer
after working 26 years at FedEx.
While her pension was fully vested,
FedEx has refused to provide Schuett survivor benefits, arguing that
its pension plan incorporates the federal Defense of Marriage Act
In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down
a key provision of DOMA, which led to federal recognition of the
legal marriages of gay couples.
“Lesly gave 26 years to FedEx, and
she respected the company. It was a point of pride with her to be an
outstanding employee. Our family is still experiencing the extreme
pain and grief that comes with the death of a wife and mother,”
Schuett said in a statement. “FedEx should recognize our family,
respect Lesly’s decades of service to the company, and honor
Lesly’s intention of providing for us even after we lost her.”
Schuett is represented in the case by
attorney Nina Wasow and the National Center for Lesbian Rights
“FedEx cannot hide behind DOMA to
justify its discrimination against Ms. Schuett and her family,”
said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “The Supreme Court’s
decision striking down DOMA made clear that employers must recognize
the spouses of their gay and lesbian employees.”