Business Briefs: AssociaTitle names Mark Sadlek director of business development

AssociaTitle names Mark Sadlek director of business development

Mark Sadlek

AssociaTitle announced it appointed Mark J. Sadlek director of business development at its corporate headquarters in the heart of Uptown Dallas at Crescent Court.

“We are thrilled to be adding Mark Sadlek to the AssociaTitle team,” said AssociaTitle President Paul Reyes. “He is a seasoned real estate professional in the Dallas area with a track record of proven success and will serve both our clients and our company well.”

Sadlek joins AssociaTitle from Republic Title of Texas, where he served as vice president of business development and director of coaching services. He worked to build and promote the company externally with Realtors, developers and lenders. His focus also included business coaching and training.

He has also served as vice president of business development for American Title and as home mortgage consultant for Shelter Mortgage & Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Previous to his work in the North Dallas real estate industry, Sadlek worked in marketing and sales for almost 20 years and was intimately involved in the start-up of two companies, VerCeram and Velux-America.

For the past nine years, Sadlek has worked in the North Dallas real estate industry, building positive relationships with local Realtors and lenders. He was awarded the 2010 Affiliate of the Year Award from MetroTex Association of Realtors, served on the MetroTex Board as an affiliate appointee board member, and chaired the Affiliate Forum Committee of MetroTex.

He was a co-founder and co-chair of Leadership Lambda Inc., an LGBT leadership development organization. He was also a board member of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and has chaired the Heart Strings Fundraiser at the Majestic Theatre. Additionally, Sadlek served on the Board of Governors for the Human Rights Campaign, as well as a co-chair of the Dallas-Fort Worth Federal Club.

Ernst & Young Announces Gross Up for Jan. 1

On Jan. 1, Ernst & Young joined more than 30 major U.S. employers that are equalizing the pay for gay and lesbian employees by covering the cost of state and federal taxes for domestic partners.

Employees enrolled in domestic partner benefits incur additional taxes as the value of those benefits is treated as taxable income under federal law, while the value of opposite-sex spousal benefits is not.

Federal law treats domestic partner benefits differently from federally-recognized spousal benefits.

—  David Taffet

Party for a good cause with “Snow Bunnies,” this weekend at Vue

“Bunnies on the Bayou,” the annual Easter weekend fundraiser that draws hundreds to the Wortham Center’s bayou adjacent patios, is still months away, but it’s younger brother “Snow Bunnies” is this Sunday, January 15, at Vue Nightclub (526 Waugh). Doors open at 5 pm.

“Snow Bunnies is not really like the big Bunny event, because it’s indoors,” says Bunnies board president Jack Berger, “although we’ve got some really kind of neat special activities that are going to happen.” Those neat special activities include an ice sculpture donated by Skye Vodka, tracks from DJ Joe Gauthreaux, “and maybe”, says Berger, “even some real snow.”

Bunnies on the Bayou started in 1979 as a joint birthday party. During the height of the AIDS crisis in the ’80′s it became one of the major fundraisers for Houston’s LGBT charities. Last year the various Bunnies events raised over half a million dollars distributed to ten area organizations.

Tickets for “Snow Bunnies” are $10, all proceeds benefit Bunnies 2012 beneficiaries, which have yet to be announced.

—  admin

The Corporate View, Part 4: Your Turn to Ask Questions

I hope what I’ve posted before has been useful or at least informative.

If you’ve ever been to an Out & Equal Workplace Summit (and I encourage you to think about attending), you know how content-rich this topic is — and the tactical ways of achieving workplace equality are as varied as is our community.

Taken from a decidedly business-oriented approach, however, certain broad themes do start to emerge:

  • The business case is there for LGBT equality in the workplace.
  • LGBT visibility plays a critical part in making LGBT inclusion happen.
  • Straight allies are one of our most valuable resources.
  • Behavior shapes attitudes — pinpoint and shape specific behaviors and shifts in people’s attitudes will follow.
  • Deliberate planning is fundamental for lasting success.
  • Achieving an LGBT-inclusive workplace is a process, not an end-point (at least for the foreseeable future).

So, before posting any more information about the CEI or efforts to achieve inclusive work environments, I thought now would be a good time to pause and take questions. I’ll do my best to respond over the week-end.


And (once again) for the record, I am not a plant or employee of HRC. I am a cisgender, gay, middle-aged, white male. I’m currently the co-Chair of Out & Equal Houston, and formerly the President of Chevron’s global PRIDE Employee Network — where (during my tenure) I helped get the company to implement trans-inclusive non-discrimination policies, authored the company’s transgender guidebook, and garner Chevron’s endorsement of a fully inclusive ENDA.

The views in these diaries are entirely my own and the materials and data I will be sharing come from my own files over the last 15 years and public records — as well as data from HRC, various Out & Equal Workplace Summit workshops and resources garnered from networking.

The floor is yours! (And PHB TOS are still in effect.)


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

The Corporate View, Part 3: What the new CEI criteria means for transgender-inclusion, etc.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 3a

Since 2002, the CEI has emerged as the consensus benchmark for LGBT-workplace equality in the U.S. – it’s because of that status that the changes occurring in the criteria this year will have a big impact going forward.

When we started the last decade, 89 companies participated in the survey – and had to answer 10 basic questions. In the last cycle, the number of companies has grown to 477… and the survey now asks detailed questions on 40 specific policies and practices ranging from pension benefits administration to gender transition guidelines.  (377 of these companies scored a 100% rating… and these companies employ 8.3 million full-time workers in the U.S.)

Starting with the 2012 survey (to be sent in by June this year), the standards are higher and will really push companies who want to receive a 100% rating.  Two areas that are of particular interest:  spousal benefits equality & transgender health benefits.

Benefits Parity for Same-Sex families
Parity between employees with different-sex spouses and same-sex partners or spouses in the provision of the following benefits: COBRA; dental; vision; legal dependent coverage; bereavement leave; employer-provided supplemental life insurance for a partner; relocation/travel assistance; adoption assistance; qualified joint and survivor annuity for partners; qualified pre-retirement survivor annuity for partners; retiree healthcare benefits; and employee discounts.

The old criteria only required coverage of 3 or more of the above benefits – and while this may not be a big leap for most companies, it will require that the benefits be explicitly available to same-sex families.

In addition, CEI is now tracking those companies that are now offsetting the disparate federal tax treatment of these benefits for same-sex families.  (Current tax law considers insurance benefits to be “imputed income” even if you are legally married.)

Impact: For companies that are already at 100%, most (if not all) already are at parity – but this change should prompt a review to ensure that the benefits are in place and equally important: employees know about them.  For companies that are just now considering providing benefits to employees with same-sex partners or spouses, there’s no way to just “ease in” – or like the Obama administration, claim provision of benefits when clearly parity isn’t there.
Although no points are allotted for “taxing-up” salaries to eliminate the added tax burden, by including this in the survey (and potentially assigning points in the future), businesses are on notice to do a couple of things:  support changes in the federal tax code that would eliminate the added tax burden on employees (and additional cost of benefits administration to the business) and/or follow the leaders in this area to retain their best and brightest LGBT employees.

Of course, much of this could be completely short-circuited with full marriage equality in the legal sense at the federal level – and frankly, there’s a compelling fiscally conservative argument that says marriage equality would lessen the burden to business by eliminating dual compensation systems – and at the same time help simplify the tax system… not to mention making it easier to move employees around (and handle visa issues for bi-national couples) but I doubt you’ll hear from GOProud on that.

Transgender Health Coverage
Equal health coverage for transgender individuals without exclusion for medically necessary care is required.  This includes removal of “transgender-exclusion” clauses from benefits plans and includes clear language that affirms coverage, including services and benefits related to transition: short term medical leave; mental health benefits; pharmaceutical coverage (e.g., for hormone replacement therapies); coverage for medical visits or laboratory services; and coverage for reconstructive surgical procedures related to sex reassignment. 

To receive full credit in this area, coverage should have no lifetime or annual caps, conform to WPATH Standards of Care (SOC), and address delivery (network adequacy) among other requirements.

Impact:  Even if, as a transgender individual, you neither want nor need GRS, these changes should have a positive impact overall when it comes to medical care.  Removal of the transgender exclusion language that has been a standard for insurance companies can begin to erase the notion that anything transgender-related is “cosmetic” or not really medically necessary.

By requiring conformance of treatment to WPATH Standards of Care (SOC) and ensuring companies address health provider and network adequacy, will also have a large impact – even for those who do not work for companies that provide these benefits.

Adequacy of care – and standards – is something that everyone faces… but for the transgender individual (who is already dealing with enough), the current medical gauntlet is bewildering if not depressing.

WPATH has done a good job of defining SOC, but the health care system has yet to address issues of availability, certification, portability and coverage.  The new CEI criteria put a starting framework around this and are an important start. 

I would like to see WPATH SOC board certification as well as a physicians registry along with governance and monitoring within the health care industry – not something that’s in the CEI area, but to my mind is intertwined.

(See Part 3a for additional details.)

The rest of the changes

With the exception of the new “negative points” section which begins to grapple with anti-LGBT political activities, the rest of the change are more geared toward what I term “creating an inclusive environment”.

Key changes here deal with organizational competence – such as ensuring that new employees have training that includes employment non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies that explicitly include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues (ditto for diversity training for existing employees). 

This is an area that really benefits from having company operations in a state like California or Washington where the anti-harassment training requirements must include LGBT-specific elements in order to pass legal muster.  Most companies buy their training tied to the highest standard they have to legally follow and don’t buy something different for areas in the U.S. where that standard is non-existent or not as rigorous. 

Regardless, my recommendation is to make sure that someone who is LGBT reviews any training before it’s implemented to make sure that it really is inclusive.

One new element calls for allowing employees to self-identify according to sexual orientation and/or gender identity either in the company HR system or in a company survey… checking these systems for adequate privacy protections and opt-in/out procedures will be a must, but the overall thrust is about making sure that employee recruitment and retention efforts specifically include LGBT people.

The requirement for having an LGBT employee group or a firm-wide diversity council that explicitly includes LGBT employees remains – and it’s a critical piece to having the rest of the CEI actually happen.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

HRC’s New Corporate Equality Index Requires Removal of Exclusions to Transgender Healthcare and Benefits

The following is from Meghan Stabler; Meghan sits on HRC’s Board of Directors and Business Council:

Transgender healthcare coverage and benefits have for too long been excluded from many business’ healthcare plans. It has been a systematic level of discrimination against transgender employees that has a devastating impact on so many people, and it needs to change. In 2002, only 5% of CEI-rated companies included gender identity among their non-discrimination policies and in 2004, only 3% of CEI-rated companies addressed transgender health with limited benefit offerings. Today, 79% of CEI-rated companies provide this limited coverage and 85 companies offer at least one healthcare plan option to all employees that covers many medically necessary transition-related treatments, including hormone therapies and surgeries.

Since 2008 I’ve been an active member of the Human Rights Campaign Business Council. Members provide expert advice and counsel on LGBT workplace issues based on their business experience and knowledge. I, along with all members of the council made it our goal to ensure that we focus on uplifting the requirements for transgender inclusion and provide HR, diversity and benefit administrators with a clear path to remove transgender workplace discrimination and ensure the provision of health insurance.

Transgender people are often categorically denied health insurance coverage for medically necessary treatment, irrespective of whether treatment is related to sex affirmation/reassignment. Up until the last few years, nearly all U.S. employer-based health insurance plans contained “transgender exclusions” that limited insurance coverage for transition-related treatment and other care. For any employee, the denial of coverage for medically necessary services and treatments can be both traumatic and life-threatening. Employers, as consumers of group health insurance products, can advocate on behalf of the transgender people insured on their group health insurance plans. The HRC Corporate Equality Index provides the motivation for employers to work with their insurance carriers or administrators to remove transgender exclusions and provide comprehensive transgender-inclusive insurance coverage.

The new CEI criteria raise the transgender benefit provision requirements significantly for employees, their dependents and applies to business operations throughout the United States, including wholly-owned subsidiaries.

As part of HRC’s commitment to ending discrimination against transgender people, beginning in calendar year 2011 full credit will be given only to employers offering all benefits-eligible employees (and their dependents) at least one health insurance plan that

  • Covers medically necessary treatments without exclusions or limitations specific to transgender individuals or to transition-related care, and
  • Conforms to current medical standards of care such as those defined by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care in determining eligibility and treatment coverage for transition-related services.

In making these changes HRC’s goal remains unchanged; seeking to highlight workplace practices that effectively eliminate discrimination against transgender employees. For the past three years we’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of employer insurance policies and documented tremendous progress. Many businesses have taken steps to remove discrimination from at least one of their health insurance plans for employees and their dependents: Employers of varying size and across industry sectors have successfully introduced coverage inclusive of services related to transgender transition, either at no cost or at a negligible cost.

We have also found that placing financial caps for transition related coverage are unnecessary and uncommon and were often utilized to control perceived risk. However, such caps also represent insurmountable barriers to care in many cases. They are discriminatory and the CEI will demand that they be removed. HRC research on utilization has shown that claims costs are extremely low, and therefore risk is low. Only 16 of the 85 businesses currently with full transgender coverage reported a financial cap, ranging from ,000 to 0,000, and half of these reported caps of ,000 or greater. In-depth interviews with a subset of employers indicated that there had been little or no initial increase in premiums, that both absolute and annual per employee costs attributed to benefit utilization had been minimal, and that there had been no impact on subsequent premiums.

So in summary, much progress has been made by corporations to provide coverage, but work still needs to be undertaken to remove prior discriminatory exclusions for transgender employees and dependents. I truly believe that the latest uplift to the CEI, and the requirement to provide services in order to achieve 100%, will signal a pivotal moment of change for both the employer and transitioning individual.

For more information visit www.hrc.org/cei

Overview of equal health coverage for transgender individuals in the calendar 2011 CEI:

Baseline Criteria

  • Insurance contract explicitly affirms coverage
  • Plan documentation is readily available to employees and clearly communicates inclusive insurance options to employees and their eligible dependents
  • Benefits available to other employees must extend to transgender individuals. Where available for employees, the following benefits should all extend to transgender individuals, including for services related to transgender transition (e.g., medically necessary services related to sex reassignment):
  • Short term medical leave
  • Mental health benefits
  • Pharmaceutical coverage (e.g., for hormone replacement therapies)
  • Coverage for medical visits or laboratory services
  • Coverage for reconstructive surgical procedures related to sex reassignment
  • Coverage of routine, chronic, or urgent non-transition services (e.g., for a transgender individual based on their sex or gender. For example, prostate exams for women with a transgender history and pelvic/gynecological exams for men with a transgender history must be covered)
  • Existing plan features should extend equally to transition related care, e.g., provisions for “adequacy of network, ”access to specialists, travel or expense reimbursement
  • Dollar caps on this area of coverage must meet or exceed ,000 per individual

Full Criteria

  • Coverage available for full range of services indicated by World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care, including the Medical Necessity Clarification Statement
  • No Lifetime or Annual Dollar caps on this area of coverage
  • Benefit administration covers treatment plans that adhere to the WPATH diagnostic and assessment process.
  • Eliminates barriers to coverage:
    • No separate dollar maximums or deductibles
    • Explicit adequacy of network provisions
    • No other serious limitations


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Partner denied sick leave by AT&T

Bryan Dickenson, left, and Bill Sugg hold hands in Sugg’s room at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson on Wednesday, Jan. 27. (Source:John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Despite 100% rating from HRC, company won’t allow gay man time off to care for ailing spouse

JOHN WRIGHT  |  News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Bryan Dickenson and Bill Sugg have been together for 30 years.

For the last 12 of those years, Dickenson has worked as a communications technician for Dallas-based AT&T.

After Sugg suffered a debilitating stroke in September, Dickinson requested time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for his partner.

But AT&T is refusing to grant Dickenson the 12 weeks of leave that would be afforded to a heterosexual spouse under the act.

As a result, Dickenson is using vacation time so he can spend one afternoon a week at Sugg’s bedside at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson. But Dickenson fears that when his vacation runs out, he’ll end up being fired for requesting additional time off to care for Sugg. Dickenson’s attorney, Rob Wiley of Dallas, said he initially thought AT&T’s refusal to grant his client leave under FMLA was just a mistake on the part of the company. Wiley said he expected AT&T to quickly rectify the situation after he sent the company a friendly letter.

After all, AT&T maintains the highest score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies according to their treatment of LGBT employees. And just this week, HRC listed AT&T as one of its “Best Places to Work.”

But AT&T has stood its ground, confirming in a statement to Dallas Voice this week that the company isn’t granting Dickenson leave under FMLA because neither federal nor state law recognizes Sugg as his domestic partner.

“I really couldn’t be more disappointed with AT&T’s response,” Wiley said. “When you scratch the surface, they clearly don’t value diversity. I just think it’s an outright lie for AT&T to claim they’re a good place for gays and lesbians to work.”

Wiley added that he’s disappointed in HRC for giving AT&T its highest score. Eric Bloem, deputy director of HRC’s workplace project, said Thursday, Jan. 28 that he was looking into the matter. Bloem said a survey for the Corporate Equality Index asks companies whether they grant FMLA leave to same-sex couples, and AT&T replied affirmatively.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, so I don’t really want to make an official comment on it,” Bloem said.

Walt Sharp, a spokesman for AT&T, said the company has “a long history of inclusiveness in the workplace.”

“There are circumstances under which our administration of our benefits plans must conform with state law, and this is one of those circumstances,” Sharp said in a written statement. “In this case, neither federal nor state law recognizes Mr. Dickenson’s domestic partner with legal status as a qualifying family member for a federal benefit program. There is no basis for this lawsuit or the allegations contained in it and we will seek its dismissal.”

Sharp didn’t respond to a request for further comment.

Wiley said Sharp’s statement doesn’t make sense. No law prohibits the company from granting Dickenson an unpaid leave of absence, which is what he’s requesting. Wiley also noted that no lawsuit has been filed, because there isn’t grounds for one.

The federal FMLA applies only to heterosexual married couples, Wiley said. Some states have enacted their own versions of the FMLA, requiring companies to grant leave to gay and lesbian couples, but Texas isn’t one of them.

Wiley said the couple’s only hope is to somehow convince the company to do the right thing, which is why he contacted the media.

“At some point in time this just becomes really hateful that they wouldn’t have any compassion,” Wiley said of the company. “I think the recourse is to tell their story and let people know how AT&T really treats their employees.”

Through thick and thin

This isn’t the first time Dickenson and Sugg have endured a medical crisis.

Sugg, who’s 69 and suffers from congenital heart problems, nearly died from cardiac arrest shortly after the couple met in 1980.

At the time, Dickenson was a full-time student and didn’t have car. So he rode his bicycle from Garland to Parkland Hospital in Dallas every day to visit Sugg in the intensive care unit.

In an interview this week at the rehab facility, Sugg’s eyes welled up with tears as he recalled what a Parkland nurse said at the time – “If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what the hell love is.”

“And sure enough, it was,” Sugg said over the whirr of his oxygen machine, turning to Dickenson. “As long as I have you, I can get through anything.”

Dickenson said in addition to visiting Sugg each Wednesday afternoon, he wakes up at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings so he can spend the day with Sugg at the rehab facility.

This past Christmas, Dickenson spent the night on the floor of Sugg’s room.
“That would have been our first Christmas separated, and I just couldn’t bear that, him being alone on Christmas,” Dickenson said.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was when he had to return to work after taking 13 days off following Sugg’s stroke, Dickenson said. Sugg didn’t understand and thought his partner had abandoned him for good.

“He called me over and over every night, begging me to please come see him,” Dickenson said. “And I said, ’Honey, you don’t understand, I had to go back to work to save my job.’

“That’s what really hurts about what they’ve put me through, not my pain and anguish, but his,” Dickenson said.

Dickenson said it was 3 a.m. on Sept. 22 when he rushed Sugg to the hospital. Doctors initially said it was “the worst sinus infection they’d ever seen,” but within 48 hours Sugg had suffered a stroke affecting his cerebellum.

Sugg lost the ability to swallow and his sense of balance. He’s still unable to walk and suffers from double vision.

Because he wasn’t out as gay at work, Dickenson initially told supervisors that his father was sick.

When he returned to work after 13 days at the hospital, Dickenson explained that his domestic partner was ill and he needed more time off. His supervisor managed to get him an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.

In the meantime, Dickenson phoned the company’s human resources department and asked whether he’d be eligible for leave under FMLA, which allows 12 weeks (or about 90 days) per year. Dickenson said he was told that since he lives in Texas, he wouldn’t be eligible.

Dickenson filled out the FMLA forms anyway and sent them to the company, but he never got any response.

When Dickenson returned to work, he asked to be reclassified as part-time employee, so he could spend more time with Sugg. His supervisor refused and told him his best bet was FMLA leave, even though he’d already been denied.

That’s when Dickenson contacted Wiley.

Sugg is scheduled return to the couple’s Garland home from rehab in about a week, but he’s still on a feeding tube and will require nursing care. With any luck, he’ll someday be able to walk again.

Sugg bragged that he was able to drink his first cup of coffee last week, and he’s looking forward to getting back to his hobby of raising African violets.

Dickenson said he knows of at least seven medical appointments he’ll have to arrange for Sugg once he returns home. He said his vacation time likely will run out by April, and he fears that if he loses his job, the medical expenses will eventually cause him to go broke.

But Dickenson, who’s 51, said he’s committed to taking care of Sugg, even if it means living on the street someday.

“When it runs out, I’ll be fired, and it really hurts to be in a situation like that, because I’ve worked very hard for AT&T,” Dickenson said. “We suffer now, but maybe other people in our shoes in the future, if they work for AT&T, they won’t suffer like we do.”

—  John Wright