AT&T changes mind, grants FMLA leave to gay employee so he can care for his partner

Posted on 29 Jan 2010 at 2:25pm

Well it appears as though you can take your iPhone out of the trash. Wait a second, you mean you hadn’t already thrown it away?

Walt Sharp, a spokesman for AT&T, just confirmed in an e-mail to Dallas Voice that the company will grant family medical leave to gay employee Brian Dickenson so Dickenson can care for his partner, Bill Sugg, who recently suffered a stroke. Here’s Sharp’s statement:

“AT&T regrets that there has been confusion over the administration of family leave with respect to registered domestic partners. We have taken steps to ensure that benefits like FMLA are extended to employees with registered domestic partners for the purpose of caring for the partner, regardless of the state in which the employee resides. AT&T has a long history of inclusiveness and we embrace and celebrate diversity of race, ethnicity and sexual orientation in our workforce.”

I also spoke with Rob Wiley, the attorney who represents Dickenson and Sugg. Wiley said it’s “fantastic” if AT&T has changed its mind, but added that neither he nor his client had been contacted by the company yet. Wiley said he’ll call off a protest planned outside a Dallas AT&T store tomorrow if and when the company contacts him.

“In mind it doesn’t really count until I get something in writing,” Wiley said. “My quote is, ‘That sounds very positive, but I haven’t heard anything from the company.’ This is kind of the problem we’ve had all along. AT&T says one thing to HRC and another thing to the employee, so I kind of have to hear it from them.”

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