University of Pittsburgh
December 16, 1999


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 16 -- The University of Pittsburgh has filed a complaint in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas asking that court to prohibit the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations from proceeding any further with complaints against the University of Pittsburgh relating to the demand by seven current and former employees for health insurance benefits for their same-sex domestic partners. The University's complaint filed today cites the Human Relations Commission's lack of jurisdiction in the matter as the reason for the requested ruling. The action was necessitated by virtue of the Commission's refusal to recognize that it had a clear lack of power to adjudicate these matters.

The complaints filed with the Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission against the University are based on the plaintiffs' contention that the 1990 amendment to the City's human relations ordinance requires employers in Pittsburgh to provide health insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners of employees. The University has consistently pointed out that there is ample evidence, including the City's own practices and policies, that the City's human relations ordinance was never meant to compel any employer to provide such benefits. The University's benefit plans are legal, nondiscriminatory and in keeping with state policy.

Furthermore, recently enacted state legislation exempts all state-related universities from any city ordinance requiring the provision of employee health care benefits. That same legislation renders such ordinances void as far as they relate to state-related universities, which means that any prior claims against state-related universities based on such ordinances are invalid.

The University believes these facts demonstrate that the Human Relations Commission is without authority in regard to these complaints, and that the matter should be dismissed. Therefore, the University has petitioned the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas to issue a ruling declaring that the University has no legal obligation to extend health insurance coverage to the same-sex domestic partners of its employees, enjoining the Commission from conducting any further proceedings, and ordering the Commission to dismiss the complaints in the case.