Gay couple denied health insurance files lawsuit

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A gay couple is filing a lawsuit against the owner of Little Caesars Pizza, accusing the company of discrimination by denying them spousal health insurance.

Frank Bernard said that he was hired as a restaurant manager, entitling him and his spouse to medical insurance. But no medical card ever came for his husband Carl.

The couple is suing Ilitch Holdings, which owns sports teams such as the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Redwings, entertainment operations and the pizza chain Little Caesars.

"Upon calling Little Caesars human resources department, I was told in no uncertain terms that Little Caesar's does not provide benefits to same sex spouses. I was absolutely shocked," Bernard said.

A letter from Little Caesar's human resources departments spells out their policy of not providing benefits to same-sex spouses, Bernard's attorney Gloria Allred said.

"This is now beyond dispute in terms of the facts. It is really going to be a question of the law," Allred said.

Ilitch Holdings did not return calls for comment.

In a Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act last year, employers are not required to provide health coverage to same-sex spouses. However, in states where same-sex marriage is legal, like in California, employers must provide equal benefits to all legally married couples.

"We are acting as private attorney generals to enforce this state law against discrimination," Allred said.

The case raises the question of whether other businesses are operating with a similar practice.

Allred has a message for those businesses.

"It would be far less costly for them to provide these benefits than to have to be in a battle in a lawsuit," Allred said.

Frank Bernard meantime has found a management job with a different restaurant chain - one that provides medical coverage for his husband Carl.

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