University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Hall v. BNSF Railway EE-WA-0128
Docket / Court 2:13-CV-02160 ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Case Summary
On December 3, 2013, plaintiffs, two employees of BNSF Railway Company who were married to same-sex spouses, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington against the BNSF Railway Company under the federal Equal Pay Act, 29 USC §206(d)(1), §216, and related ... read more >
On December 3, 2013, plaintiffs, two employees of BNSF Railway Company who were married to same-sex spouses, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington against the BNSF Railway Company under the federal Equal Pay Act, 29 USC §206(d)(1), §216, and related sections. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, they asked the court to declare that BNSF must pay company spousal benefits, regardless of the BNSF employee's sex or sexual orientation, and to enjoin the defendant from continuing its benefit discrimination and denial of plan benefits. The plaintiffs also asked for compensatory damages for the benefits they should have received thus far. Later, in an amended complaint, plaintiffs added causes of action under Title VII, ERISA, and a state anti-discrimination statute, all of which stemmed from the same denial of benefits.

The case arose from BNSF's definition of marriage. Plaintiffs were residents of and legally married in Washington State. BNSF, however, defined marriage as between a man and a woman. As a result, the firm denied benefits to plaintiffs' same-sex spouses, which led to the lawsuit.

On September 22, 2014, the District Court for the Western District of Washington (Judge Ricardo S. Martinez), dismissed the ERISA claim for lack of jurisdiction and allowed the remaining claims to continue, by granting in part and denying in part the defendant's motion to dismiss.

On February 24, 2015, the Court (Judge Ricardo S. Martinez), dismissed the case pursuant to the parties' joint stipulation of dismissal. Prior to settling, BNSF had voluntarily started providing benefit coverage for same-sex spouses, including the plaintiffs' spouses.

Megan Dolan - 08/07/2014
David Hamstra - 03/22/2015


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Defendant-type
Transportation
Discrimination-area
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1001
Defendant(s) BNSF Railway Company
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are two employees of BNSF Railway denied company spousal benefits for their same-sex spouses.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
Case Studies Limited Partnership
http://www.limitedpartnershipmovie.com/
By: Thomas G. Miller
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  United States Government says L.A. Gay Couple’s 1975 Marriage is Valid
The Pride L.A.
Written: Jun. 07, 2016
By: Troy Masters
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:13-cv-02160-RSM (W.D. Wash.) 02/25/2015
EE-WA-0128-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Individual and Collective Complaint for Nonpayment of Wages Under Equal Pay Act 12/03/2013
EE-WA-0128-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Individual and Collective Complaint for Nonpayment of Wages Under Equal Pay Act, State and Federal Discrimination Claims and ERISA Benefits and Declaratory Judgment Claims 03/26/2014
EE-WA-0128-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying In Part And Granting In Part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss 09/22/2014 (W.D. Wash.)
EE-WA-0128-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Martinez, Ricardo S. (W.D. Wash.) [Magistrate]
EE-WA-0128-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gogal, LisaLou (Washington)
EE-WA-0128-0002
Stockmeyer, Cleveland (Washington)
EE-WA-0128-0001 | EE-WA-0128-9000
Turner, Duncan Calvert (Washington)
EE-WA-0128-0001 | EE-WA-0128-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Munro, Donald (District of Columbia)
EE-WA-0128-9000
Rogers, Jeremy H. (Washington)
EE-WA-0128-9000
Other Lawyers Borelli, Tara Lynn (California)
EE-WA-0128-9000
Divine, Jennifer S (California)
EE-WA-0128-9000
Nevins, Gregory R. (Georgia)
EE-WA-0128-9000
Pizer, Jennifer Carol (California)
EE-WA-0128-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -