McDermott Will & Emery Joins Firms to Offer Employees Tax Offsets for Domestic Partner Health Benefits
McDermott Will & Emery LLP, a premier international law firm, was the latest firm to provide a tax gross-up payment for its employees in same-sex domestic partnerships beginning in 2011. The new benefit will reimburse their gay employees for the tax liability they incur when they elect to add domestic partners to their health benefits plans. McDermott Will & Emery will now allow their gay employees to get health benefits for their domestic partners without being taxed on the value of their partners’ medical, dental and vision benefits, unlike the previous industry practice. McDermott Will & Emery joined the ranks of other law firms who also adopted the same policy previously such as Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and Linklaters and recently, Morrison & Foerster LLP.
Peter Sacripanti, the New York-based co-chair for McDermott, said that this recent decision was the right thing to do and a move toward the right direction. “This is something we think is important.” He also revealed that McDermott has been offering benefits to the same-sex couples since 2002 because about 2% of their lawyers and 3% of their staffs have openly identified themselves as gay. He added: “By law firm perk standards—where associate bonuses at top New York law firms are hitting $7,500 to $35,000 this year—the amounts involved in the gross up to lawyers and staff is relatively small. Regardless, the benefit will have an immediate effect on McDermott employees.”
D’Arcy Kemnitz, the executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association, said that the adoption of this policy is now becoming popular throughout the entire US. “Law firms are now adopting the benefit in response to announcements by corporations who are potential clients to show they welcome diversity. It’s picking up steam.”
The National Association for Law Placement reported that around 1.88% of lawyers in law firms identified themselves as LGBT based on November’s record. This number was up slightly from last year’s tally. But the total number of all LGBT lawyers fell to over 2.8%, which was equivalent to 2,137.
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