Tags: Human Resources

The Department of Labor (DOL) released a new rule, effective March 27, 2015, redefining spouse to include same-sex married partners under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The DOL acted in conformance with the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which held parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Here’s what it means for employers:

  1. Even if your employee is in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, his or her same sex spouse may still be characterized as a “spouse” under FMLA. What matters is that a couple’s marriage is valid where it was celebrated, not where the employee lives (this is different from the prior rule).
  2. The same applies for couples married in a foreign country. If the marriage was legal where the couple got married and it could have taken place in at least one state in the union, then the couple are considered spouses.
  3. This means that, when an employee requests FMLA for a same-sex spouse, step-child, or step-parent through his or her same-sex spouse, the employee is entitled to FMLA leave if the marriage is legal where the ceremony took place.

Iowa recognizes same-sex marriage. The status in Nebraska is in flux. A federal District Judge recently struck down Nebraska’s ban on same-sex marriages. However, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the ruling on March 6, 2015. A similar process is playing out in South Dakota. A South Dakota federal judge found the state’s ban unconstitutional, staying her ruling until the Eighth Circuit decides the issue. The Eighth Circuit will hear oral arguments for both cases in May of 2015.

For more information on this article and others like it, visit our "Human Resources on Your Side" blog or contact the Goosmann Law Firm at info@goosmannlaw.com or (712) 226-4000.

Subscribe Our Blog

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. By visiting this website, blog, or post you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Goosmann Law Firm attorneys and website publisher. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Goosmann Law Firm, PLC, or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.