UK - The British Medical Association has challenged the government in the High Court over pensions paid to widowers by public sector schemes in a case which could cost the taxpayer £4bn ($6bn).
The union's lawyers have argued the current arrangements - under which the widower of a female doctor receives a lower pension than the widow of a male doctor - is unlawful discrimination which is "as direct as it gets".
They have brought the test case of Iain Cockburn, widower of Warwickshire GP Clare Boothroyd, which would have ramifications for all public sector workers if the government is found to have acted unlawfully.
Dr Boothroyd died of cancer in 2007 having contributed to the NHS pension scheme for 24 years but Cockburn, who is 56, receives £3,200 a year less in pension than a widow would receive under the same conditions.
Manches partner Alex Fox, representing the BMA, said: "It is important for organisations such as the BMA to ensure that unlawful discrimination within the work place is stamped out".
The Department of Health's response is that it the arrangements - under which service before 1988 is not counted for female public servants now over 55 - were appropriate and justified due to the belief that women were disadvantaged economically owing to childcare responsibilities and their historically lower earning potential.
Fox said: "They have to wake up and smell the coffee - times have changed. This may possibly have been the case in 1988 but childcare duties are now often shared and women are often the highest wage earners in a household, particularly in the NHS and teaching profession."
He said government ministers had however removed the comparable discriminatory effect from a small number of public sector schemes, including one that affects MPs.
Fox added that he did not believe that the case would result in a leveling down of pensions for widows if the BMA was successful as in these other cases the pension benefits for widowers had been raised.
A ruling was expected by the end of the month, he said.