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Bayer sued over refusal to pay out survivor benefits to gay widower

Chemical giant Bayer is refusing to pay the gay widower of an employee a survivors’ pension despite their 2008 Connecticut same-sex marriage
The Bayer Corporation's logo
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A Connecticut gay man is suing the Bayer Corporation after it refused to pay him survivors’ benefits after his husband died.

Bayer claims they do not owe Gerald Passaro any money despite his marriage to Thomas Buckholz, an employee of Bayer for over 20 years who legally married Passaro in Connecticut in November of 2008.

They had been together for 13 years prior to their marriage.

Buckholz died in January 0f 2009, just two months after their wedding, at which point Passaro sought the benefits the company’s pension plan is supposed to pay out to surviving spouses of employees but Bayer told him he was not eligible because of the US federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act.

Passaro was one of the parties to the court case that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and he asked Bayer to reconsider whether he was eligible for survivor benefits after that verdict but they refused to do so.

In response, Passaro filed a lawsuit against Bayer via his lawyers the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) in the District Court for Connecticut.

‘Despite the fact that DOMA has been found unconstitutional, Bayer continues to deny benefits to Jerry even though its pension plan provides benefits to all surviving spouses and even though federal law (ERISA) mandates pension benefits for surviving spouses under plans like Bayer’s,’ GLAD interim executive director Gary Buseck said in a statement.

‘Bayer has turned a deaf ear to its legal and moral obligation to the widower of a dedicated employee, who is in need of this basic support that his husband earned.’

The Bayer Corporation is 151 years old and invented both aspirin and heroin – though it has not manufactured the later for many decades.

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