Former employee petitions DART to offer domestic partner benefits

Posted on 19 Jul 2012 at 12:34pm

Andrew Moss

A former Dallas Area Rapid Transit employee is petitioning the company to add domestic partner benefits after health issues have forced him to stop working.

Andrew Moss worked as a DART police officer for five years until 2008. He then worked for the city of Fort Worth until his health prevented him from working. He’s now on COBRA but that will expire in December, he said.

Moss legally married his husband in California in 2008, but Texas doesn’t recognize the marriage. He said his husband still works as a police officer for DART and could add Moss to his health insurance plan as early as January if DART offered DP benefits.

“My husband goes to work and risks his life for DART and should get the same benefits that his counterparts of a different sexual orientation get,” Moss said.

Moss has started a Change.org petition called “Urge Dallas Area Rapid Transit DART to Offer Domestic Partner Benefits” to persuade DART President Gary Thomas and Deputy Executive Director Jesse Oliver to add the benefits.

As of Thursday afternoon, 36 people had signed it.

“In my discussion with Dallas Area Rapid Transit, I was advised by their Human Resources Managers that DART ‘Prefers not to get into the choices of their employees,’” Moss mentions in the petition letter. “I wasn’t aware my husband and I and countless others woke up one day and decided to be LGBT. DART appears to be less than willing to even attempt to assist their LGBT population in obtaining benefits or other effective workplace protections.”

DART added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy in 1995 and added trans protections in 2010 after pressure from the LGBT community surrounding an allegation of discrimination against a trans bus driver. Moss said adding DP benefits is the next step after passing nondiscrimination, adding that making it about cost is not an acceptable reason.

“If we don’t give black people benefits because it’s too expensive, that’s just wrong,” he said.

DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said the company’s administration is aware of the petition after Dallas Voice brought it to his attention and there are no plans to offer the benefits to its roughly 3,500 employees.

“There are no plans currently to talk about a decision to expand benefits to domestic partners,” he said, declining to comment on why.

DART’s current Board of Directors is comprised of 15 individuals, seven representing Dallas, and the others representing one or more of the following: Garland, Irving, Plano, Cockrell Hill, Richardson, University Park, Addison and Highland Park, Carrollton, Farmer’s Branch, Rowlett and Glenn Heights.

Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell said he has had informal discussions with DART officials recently and was told that DART’s general counsel in the past was against adding the benefits.

Lyons said DART’s previous general counsel recently left and they are in the process of hiring another one.

McDonnell added that cost projections in El Paso, which added DP benefits in 2009, and Parkland’s figures from this year were well below the expected cost.

“It’s not an issue of cost. It’s an issue of fairness,” he said.

For Moss, the issue of fairness will come down to his health and whether he will be able to afford any medical procedures or treatments after his COBRA runs out.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “Equal pay, equal benefits for equal work.”

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