SkyWest and Delta Accused of Anti-Gay Discrimination, May be Sued

Gilbert Caldwell, a SkyWest baggage agent who married his partner last year in California in the window following the Supreme Court's decision when it was legal, says SkyWest refuses to offer his husband the same free fares it offers heterosexual spouses, the Desert Sun reports:

Deltaskywest "In a six-page letter to the airlines, attorney Tara L. Borelli, with Lambda Legal, contends her client, Gilbert Caldwell, and his spouse, the Rev. David Farrell, are enduring employment discrimination due to a SkyWest travel policy that refuses to extend its benefits to same-sex spouses 'while heterosexual employees' spouses are fully respected automatically.'

The Oct. 29 letter is the first step before formally suing SkyWest and Delta, Borelli said Friday.' In this incident, they are refusing to treat Gilbert in the same way as they do married, heterosexual couples,' added Borelli, a Lambda Legal staff attorney in Los Angeles. 'They should be providing travel benefits on equal terms.'
… Officials with SkyWest and Delta Airlines did not return multiple phone messages on Thursday and Friday seeking comment. .This surprising and discriminatory policy not only sends a powerful message of stigma and devaluation to SkyWest's gay and lesbian employees, but contravenes clear California legal mandates to treat same-sex spouses and registered domestic partners on equal terms with heterosexual spouses,. the letter states."

The SF Chronicle reports: "The case is one of the first discrimination complaints to surface by
any of the 18,000 same-sex couples who married in California before the
November 2008 passage of Proposition 8, which amended the state
Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman."

SkyWest has not released a statement about the case. Lambda Legal says the letter to SkyWest is the final step before a lawsuit is filed.


  1. DairyQueen says

    Not sure if this guy can sue if the company for equal marriage benefits since it is not based out of California. Sky West is based out of St. George, Utah. Sky West may have a loophole since Utah doesn’t reconize same-sex couples relationships regardless is it’s marriage or not ( constitutional amendment). If this is the case, they are screwed. The only thing they can do is deal with it or quit, and have the GLBT community call for a Boycott of Sky West.
    SkyWest is the nation’s largest independently owned regional carrier – meaning they work under marketing and service agreements with Delta, United, and Midwest not owned by them.

  2. Esurnir says

    The article say it’s a skywest issue not a delta one.

    The fact the company is based in Utah Iran or Mallawi is irrelevant. Companies must obey the labor laws of the state they operate in.

  3. david says

    Most airlines offer domestic partner benefits to employees. I have worked for AA and now Virgin America, and we have full benefits (with the gay tax of course).

  4. DairyQueen says

    Esrnir: Your statement is not totally true. My old company which was based out of Washington would not offer DP benefits to my husband and I (we live in CA) because the medical benefits were only for legally married couples. Even though it sucked, they were able to get away with it, because they were based out of Washington State where there was not DP benefits. I checked with lawyers and the company was able get way with it. So I wonder if this Utah state based company can do they same?

  5. Jason Blake says

    Skywest’s non-rev travel benefits on Delta coded (mainline or regional) flights are determined by Delta not Skywest. So it seems Delta would be an appropriate party to this lawsuit.

  6. Mike says

    Delta is about as gay friendly as it gets. I’m sure if they’re involved, they will do the right thing! I imagine they are pretty embarrassed about the whole thing!

  7. Robert Marshall says

    SkyWest’s headquarters is in my hometown, St. George, Utah. They are a Mormon-owned company, so this doesn’t surprise me one bit.

    And people back home wonder why I was so eager to escape to San Francisco…

  8. Uflyguy says

    US Airways has travel and insurance benefits for same sex Domestic Partners. Of course, there are “extra” taxes to be paid on them that married couples do not have to pay, but that isnt necessarily a company issue, but a govt issue. Overall though the benefits for DPS are good.

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