FMLA Could Be Extended to Couples in Same-Sex Marriages Throughout Nation
- November 3, 2014
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Gay and lesbian couples who were joined in same-sex marriages are now entitled to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in states that recognize marriage equality, but the FMLA could also be extended throughout the nation to include common law spouses even in states that currently do not recognize same-sex marriage as well. The U.S. Department of Labor recently proposed a new rule that would extend the effect and benefits of the FMLA to same-sex couples and common law spouses throughout the country. Employers had until August 11, 2014 to submit their comments and suggestions regarding the new proposed rule change. The FMLA covers employers with fifty (50) or more employees within seventy-five (75) miles of each other. As it is written, the law permits any eligible employee to apply for and take up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period of time if and when a member of his or her family has a serious health condition. The FMLA designates a family member as a parent or child under the age or 18 or a spouse. Previously, only legally married heterosexual couples qualified as spouses under the law. In 2014, the United States Supreme Court struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined “marriage” and “spouse” to be limited to heterosexual partners. This ruling changed the definition of “spouse” with regard to the FMLA to include a legally married same-sex spouse, if that person worked in a state that recognized marriage equality but not in states that did not recognize same-sex marriages. The current proposed rule would expand FMLA to the spouses of gay and lesbian individuals as long as the marriage was legal in the state where it was entered into even if they work in a state where same-sex marriage is not legal. The new rule would also expand the FMLA to common law spouses in all fifty (50) U.S. states, provided that the relationship is recognized in at least one state. If you are a gay or lesbian couple who plan on seeking a legal marriage or filing for a same-sex divorce or would like more information regarding same-sex divorce it is critical that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before proceeding. For more information about same-sex marriage, same-sex divorce, same-sex relationship dissolution, equitable distribution, alimony, custody and visitation, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and it is in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.