Rand Hoch of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council announces that Florida Atlantic University employees will soon be eligible for domestic-partner benefits including health insurance.
Here's the PBCHRC news release:
(Boca Raton, Florida) -- Employees of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) shall soon be eligible to participate in a domestic partnership health insurance program, according to the recently ratified collective bargaining agreement between the Board of Trustees of Florida Atlantic University and the FAU Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF-FAU).
The new three year contract also permits FAU employees to use up to six months of sick leave to care for their domestic partners or their domestic partners children.
For more than a decade, the FAU Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida has been working to convince the Florida Atlantic University's Board of Trustees to recognize employee's domestic partners.
This is great news," said Rand Hoch, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC). "FAU's Board of Trustees and the United Faculty of Florida are to be commended for reaching an agreement recognizing that employees with domestic partners should be treated in the same manner as spouses."
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council is a local non-profit organization which, for the last 25 years, has been dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. The organization has also been the prime mover for domestic partnership benefits for public employees in Palm Beach County for more than two decades.
"Domestic partner benefits were long overdue at FAU," said UFF-FAU President Chris Robé. "Offering domestic partnership benefits is a necessity for any public institution that aspires towards the ideals of equality, access, and fairness."
FAU's domestic partnership health insurance program will be implemented by mid-August.
In 2006, the University of Florida became the first public university in Florida to extend domestic partnership benefits. Since then, an additional ten of the state's thirteen public universities have implemented policies recognizing domestic partners. Only Florida State University and the University of West Florida have not yet recognized domestic partnerships.
At the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, the Boca Raton City Council recently began addressing domestic partnership benefits for the city's employees.
However, at meetings held last week, City Council Member Anthony Majhess questioned whether it was even legal to offer domestic partnership benefits in Florida. In support of his inquiry, City Attorney Diana Grub Frieser advised the City Council they could seek an advisory opinion from the Florida Attorney General.
"What a colossal waste of staff time and taxpayer dollars," said Hoch. "This matter was resolved by the Florida Supreme Court back in 2008."
Regardless, Hoch is optimistic that the Boca Raton City Council will extend domestic partnership benefits before summer's end.
"It is clear that a majority of the Boca Raton City Council want to treat all of their employees equally," said Hoch.
As a result of the efforts of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, domestic partnership benefits are currently offered by the municipalities of Delray Beach, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington and West Palm Beach, as well as by Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County School District, the Port of Palm Beach, the Palm Beach County Health Care District, Palm Beach State College, the Children's Services Council, Palm Tran, Seacoast Utility Authority, the Solid Waste Authority and all five of Palm Beach County's constitutional officers.