US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR CHANGES DEFINITION OF SPOUSE FOR FMLA

Detroit SHRM

 

By:  Claudia D. Orr

 

Effective March 27, 2015, an employee who is legally married to someone of the same sex will have full rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take leave to care for their spouse regardless of whether the same sex marriage is recognized in the state where he or she works.

The Final Rule, which will be issued February 25, 2015, was drafted to reflect the US Supreme Court’s ruling in US v Windsor which had struck the federal Defense of Marriage Act provision restricting “marriage” and “spouse” to heterosexual marriages for purposes of federal law.

Previously, same sex spouses only had such rights under FMLA if the marriage was recognized in the state where the employee worked.  Thus, Michigan employers should now update their FMLA policies to recognize the rights of their employees who are in lawful same sex marriages.

This article was written by Claudia D. Orr, who is Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee of Detroit SHRM, and an attorney at the Detroit office of the law firm Plunkett Cooney.  She can be reached at corr@plunkettcooney.com or at (313) 983-4863.

Detroit SHRM encourages members to share these articles with others, inside and outside their organization, as long as its name and logo, and the author’s information, is included in the re-post of the article. February 2015.