Photo of Gabrielle Fox

Gabrielle Fox is a special employee benefits counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group. She is involved in many aspects of employee benefits law, including the establishment and compliance of retirement plans (both defined benefit and defined contribution) as well as welfare plans.

Gabrielle counsels clients with regard to the requirements of ERISA, as well as the multitude of other laws affecting the employee benefits sphere. She provides day-to-day advice to boards of trustees and plan administrators regarding all issues related to the plan’s continued compliance with applicable law. In addition, she represents multiple clients within the theatre industry.

While in law school, Gabrielle clerked at the Nassau County Family Court for Special Referee Dorothy A. Phillips and assisted with the drafting of custody decisions. She was a member of the Hofstra Law Review and served as senior associate editor in her third year.

If the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional in Windsor v. U.S., which is expected to be decided this month, will employers that offer health benefits to employees’ same-sex domestic partners cease offering “domestic partner” benefits separately from benefits for employees and their spouses? Currently, one rationale for offering same-sex domestic partner health coverage is based on an equitable argument that, because an employee’s same-sex domestic partner typically cannot be treated as a spouse or dependent for federal tax purposes, a special coverage category is warranted. At the same time, this special status results in an economic hardship in that the employee must pay income tax on the value of coverage provided to the domestic partner. A repeal of DOMA would enable same-sex couples to avoid this economic hardship (at least with regard to federal income taxes). In other words, if DOMA is repealed, the definition of “spouse” for purposes of federal laws will no longer be limited to an opposite-sex spouse. Consequently, same-sex couples will have the opportunity to avoid federal taxation of their benefits by marrying. That could lead employers to conclude that the special category of domestic partner coverage is no longer needed.