On January 14, 2015, the widow of a longtime FedEx employee sued FedEx for refusing to provide her with federally required spousal pension benefits solely because both spouses were women.
Stacey Schuett and Lesly Taboada-Hall were together for 30 years before they married on June 19, 2013 in Northern California. At the time of Taboada-Hall’s death from uterine cancer, she had been an employee of FedEx for more than 26 years and was fully vested in her pension.
FedEx refused to provide the benefits because its pension plan incorporates the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), even though that law was struck down as unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court on June 26, 2013. As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, federally-regulated retirement plans must recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples for purposes of survivor benefits.
The couple began dating in 1983. Taboada-Hall was the primary breadwinner while Schuett, who illustrates children’s books, was a stay-at-home mother for their two children. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Taboada-Hall continued to work for FedEx. She married Schuett from a hospital bed in their home in Sebastopol, CA in front of their two children and close family members and friends.
Schuett is represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Feinberg Jackson Worthman & Wasow, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, and the Birnie Law Office.
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in NCLR’s Tennessee marriage case and cases from three other states affirming the freedom to marry in every state and U.S. territory.
Update: The case has been resolved.