HR Management & Compliance

Short Takes: Benefits

Once we hire an employee, we provide full medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage to the employee, spouse, and children. Are we able to request marriage certificates and birth certificates for eligible family members for the purpose of insurance benefits? We have found that employees will often list nonrelatives for insurance benefits (e.g., a boyfriend, a sister’s child, etc.). If we are able to request these documents, must we request them from all employees who have listed a spouse or child, so as to not discriminate against, say, an employee who has listed 10 children with 10 different last names?

400+ pages of state-specific, easy-read reference materials at your fingertips—fully updated! Check out the Guide to Employment Law for California Employers and get up to speed on everything you need to know.

“Yes, an employer can request documentation from an employee, such as marriage licenses or birth certificates, to verify the eligibility of his or her dependents for insurance benefits. It is also correct that the documents should be requested across the board from all employees seeking dependent coverage to avoid claims of discrimination. While it is not illegal discrimination as such to require more documentation from an employee with 10 children as compared to 1, there may be a correlation between the ethnicity of the employee and the number of children such that it will appear to be discrimination on the basis of race or national origin to require more from employees with more children.”

Scott Silverman is a partner at the Los Angeles office of law firm Morrison & Foerster.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *