Mary B. Ballou (1949-)
George F. Thompson, Libby S. Adler, Daniel C. Schaffer
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
College of Arts and Sciences. Law, Policy and Society Program.
Political science, Small businesses, Gay employment equality
Domestic partner benefits, Small business, Case studies
In the four decades since the Stonewall Riots marked the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement in 1969, societal attitudes toward gay-employment equality have become more progressive. A 2007 Gallup Poll indicated that 85% of respondents supported workplace equality for gay and lesbian workers. This represents a significant increase from the same poll conducted in 1977 with a 56% favorable response. Neither legislative policy nor judicial decisions have advanced gay-employment equality reflective of this trend. Court decisions have repeatedly ruled that sexual orientation employment discrimination is not constitutionally protected. Further, only twenty states include sexual orientation verbiage in their nondiscrimination statutes, and a Federal policy that would prohibit sexual orientation employment discrimination has failed enactment despite a fourteen year history on Capital Hill. That said, one arena of policy designers has been successful implementing progressive policy reflective of polling data trends. Business HRM managers in 470 of the Fortune 500 (94%) include sexual orientation in their corporate nondiscrimination policies. Further, 452 of the Fortune 500 (90%) extend spousal-equivalent benefits to employees with domestic partners (including same-sex couples). The purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate the barriers that prevent small businesses (defined as those employing less than 500 workers) from implementing domestic partner benefit policies, and uncover the primary decision factors in those small businesses that have implemented domestic partner benefit policies. Participants in this study included small business owners and human resource managers in Maine who were randomly selected from a business database compiled by Tower Publishing. This study gathered data via an internet-based survey instrument that questioned respondents about their businesses' characteristics and human resource policy. Results from this study found that the primary barriers preventing respondents from implementing domestic partner benefit policies in their small business were associated costs and lack of employee interest. In those small businesses that had implemented domestic partner benefit policies, respondents cited promoting employment equality, employee requests for domestic partner benefits, and attracting and retaining qualified labor as the driving factors behind their decision to extend these benefits.
Peter M. Coyne
Coyne, Peter M., "Domestic partner benefit policy implementation barriers in Maine small businesses" (2008). Law, Policy, and Society Dissertations. Paper 15. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20000024