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Pennsylvania employer named in benefits discrimination suit

Several large employers, including one located in Pennsylvania, have been implicated in a new employment discrimination suit brought under the healthcare reform law.

Most people do not realize that the new healthcare law has a major impact on employment law. Among many other things, the Affordable Care Act adds new requirements for private insurance plans, most of which are administered through work. This impacts employment laws and non-discrimination policies in areas such as required coverage for maternity care.

Nondiscrimination provisions in the Affordable Care Act, according to advocacy groups, mean that employers must provide maternity care and other medical needs specific to women. If they do not, advocates with the National Women's Law Center say, employers are violating nondiscrimination laws.

According to a recent lawsuit, this includes plans offered to dependents of employees who are enrolled in the plans. Under the healthcare law all employers must permit dependents to stay enrolled through age 26.

Benefits are one area where a lot of employees are confused about what they are entitled to under the law. Since the laws have changed at least as far as healthcare benefits, many employees may be faced with new paperwork from their employers that they do not understand. If new policies look confusing or seem to exclude benefits that affect one group of employees more than others, then they could be discriminatory.

The National Women's Law Center filed suits against five major employers from around the country, including the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, accusing them of discrimination against female employees.

Source: The Hill, "Large employers accused of sex discrimination under ObamaCare," Sam Baker, June 4, 2013.

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