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My Company Essentially Gives Married People $25,000 August 13, 2020

Posted by Onely in Marital Status Discrimination.
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to the latest installment in our ongoing series, “Onely Gets Pissy About Marital Status Discrimination,” where we flag discriminatory laws and corporate policies, then use our righteous indignation as an excuse to make up fun swear words. 

It’s that special time of year at my company: benefits renewal! When I got the email reminding us to go to the benefits site and select the policies we wanted, I logged in immediately, because I am nothing if not a good little corporate cublicle monkey. I started checking boxes:  $2750 in my health FSA! BAM!   Short term disability insurance! BAM!   Long term disability insurance! BAM!   $150,000 life insurance for in case I choke on arugula (a persistent fear of mine, because those long leaves dangle dangerously into one’s throat)! BAM!    $25,000 life insurance for my spouse in case he chokes on arugula! BA—   

Not so fast, little cubicle monkey!

Our long-time Copious Readers already see the problem:  If I were married, I’d have the option to spend 73 cents per pay period to purchase $25,000 of life insurance for my spouse. But because I am not married, I do not have the option of purchasing the $25,000 policy for my spouse, nor for anyone else.  

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–instead of structuring benefits packages around spouses and the nuclear family, companies should just let their employees choose who the important people in their lives are. You can already do this to some extent; for example, I chose my sister as my IRA beneficiary. Wouldn’t it be nice if I, as a single person, had the option to purchase cheap life insurance for someone important in my life, like my co-blogger Lisa or my cat Theo? On a related note, all employees should be required to choose a handful of loved ones they would want to be able to take bereavement leave for. This prevents discrimination against people who do not have a typical nuclear family. I was not allowed to take bereavement leave for the deaths of an uncle and a cousin, but if I’d been married, I would have been allowed to take bereavement leave if my husband’s grandparents died. Because presumably that’s far more tragic. 

I love being single, am good at being single, and have dodged the marriage bullet at least twice in my life. But do I get credit for my Matrix-level bullet-dodging? NO! I get to accidentally check the “$25,000 spousal life insurance” box, then see a big red error message popup that says, 


And even though I love being single and am good at being single, when those words (or a similar approximation thereof) flash onto the screen, a small part of me feels less-than, as if I’ve chosed the deviant path. But because I’ve been doing a lot of self-work over the last few decades, that less-than feeling doesn’t last too long. Just long enough for me to write a pissy (yet righteous) blog post. 



1. Barbara Payne - August 13, 2020

thanks for articulating, Christina. That’s what we’re talkin’ about! http://www.swwan.org/

Christina - August 14, 2020

Thanks Barbara!

2. Kathleen Quigley - August 14, 2020

Think of it this way: your company’s insurance carrier pockets $.73/month for life insurance for spouses. Approximately half of all marriages end in divorce so there is no incentive for insurance companies to give up easy money. Likewise, most employee/employer relationships do not last. Again, easy money for insurance companies.

Christina - August 14, 2020

I bet if we take any major social issue, like climate change or systemic racism or the unreasonable popularity of the pumpkin spice latte, it could be traced in large part back to INSURANCE COMPANIES. Special rung in hell for them.

3. Craig Wynne - August 15, 2020

Thanks for sharing this, Christina. I’m echoing others’ comments, but yeah, I think it’s a big money-grab for insurance companies. They don’t want to sound “anti-family” and they’ve been matrimanically conditioned. Yet, they’re thinking if they allow people to give to whomever they want, they won’t make as much money. It’s wrong on so many levels.

Onely - August 16, 2020

Interesting point about the pressure not to be anti-family. . . and ironic that in the effort to sound inclusive, they implement exclusion. . .

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