Mountain View, Calif. – Google (NASD:  GOOG) is expected on Thursday to
announce that it will begin compensating gay and lesbian employees for an
extra tax they must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health
benefits — which married straight couples are not required to pay, The New
York Times reported. The Williams Institute estimated in 2007 that employees
with domestic partners pay about $1,069 more a year in taxes than legally
married employees with the same coverage.

Google said it looked into the
disparity after a gay employee pointed it out; other companies including Cisco
provide similar compensations to gay employees.

"We said, ‘You’re right,
that doesn’t seem fair,’ so we looked into it," Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice
president for people operations, told The Times.

"From that initial
suggestion, we said, let’s take a look at all the benefits we offer and see if
we are being truly fair across the board."

In addition to the benefits compensation,
Google also altered several other policies affecting gay employees, such as
including domestic partners in its family leave policy.  

"If you were to add it all up, it’s
not like we are talking hundreds of thousands per employee," Google’s Bock
told The Times.

"It will cost some money, but it was more about doing the
right thing."

The Times noted that Google’s move "could
inspire its Silicon Valley competitors to follow suit, because they compete for
the same talent."

The new Google compensations for gay and lesbian
employees will apply only to U.S. workers, and will be retroactive to Jan. 1.


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