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    FMLA’s definition of “spouse” updated to include those in legal, same-sex marriages

    In follow up to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Department of Labor has announced that employees in legal, same-sex marriages will now have the same right to protected Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave as those in opposite-sex marriages.

    Under the FMLA, an eligible employee working for a covered employer may take up to 12 or 26 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for certain specified reasons. This includes leave to care for a spouse with a serious health condition. The term “spouse” previously did not include same-sex spouses if the employee resided in a state that did not recognize the legality of such marriages. Under this new rule, all legally married couples have consistent FMLA rights, regardless of whether they currently reside in a state recognizing same-sex marriages.

    This ruling also has an impact on the children of same-sex marriages. Specifically, an eligible employee may now take FMLA leave to care for a stepchild if that child is the child of the employee’s same-sex spouse. Further, an eligible employee may take FMLA leave to care for a stepparent who is the same-sex spouse of that employee’s parent.

    This ruling goes into effect March 27, 2015. For more information, click here.


    This is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice and does not create or imply an attorney-client relationship.

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