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US: Alaska extends workers’ compensation benefits to same-sex partners

Katie Dupere July 25, 2014

Alaska Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Friday that same-sex partners of workers killed on the job should have access to compensation under Alaska law.

In the lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal, Deborah Harris sought compensation in the work-related death of her partner Kerry Fadely.

Fadely was working at an Alaska hotel in 2011 when a disgruntled former employee shot and killed her.

Though workers’ compensation is usually paid by insurance companies, Alaska law requires employers to provide survivor benefits to the spouse of a person who is killed from a work-related injury.

Same-sex couples were unable to access survivor protections prior to this ruling because Alaska does not recognise same-sex marriages.

Peter Renn, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney, said in a statement: “This is a wonderful ruling for same-sex couples in Alaska who have built lives and raised families together but were at risk because they were barred access to a critical safety net created specifically to catch families at moments of crisis.

“Like the avalanche of decisions we’re seeing from every corner of this country, the court recognized that loving, committed same-sex couples should have equal access to the law’s protection.”

Five same-sex couples in Alaska filed a lawsuit in May challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The state of Alaska filed a brief defending its same-sex marriage ban in late June, claiming that it does not violate the rights of any couples.

Watch Deborah Harris talk about the case to Lambda Legal below:

More: Alaska, Alaska Supreme Court, Americas, Deborah Harris, Kerry Fadely, Lamda Legal, US, work-related death, workers' compensation

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