How the Supreme Court's Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage Affects Employment Law

Now that “domestic partnerships” are, more or less, a thing of the past due to the United States Supreme Court’s historic ruling that legalized same-sex marriages nationwide, employment law is going through some shifts to adjust to the changes. Most notably, there really are no male and female spouses in the eyes of the law, anymore; that is to say, you are just spouse one or spouse two. This means that employers who offer spousal health insurance benefits will need to provide them to all married employees, regardless of whether they are in a traditional marriage or a same-sex marriage.

Companies that are self-insured, meaning they assume any insurance risks for their own employees, can actually pick and choose who gets what benefits. This is due to the fact that they will be spending their own money to cover matters of insurance. If an employer really did want to exclude a same-sex spouse from getting insurance benefits, they could switch to a self-insured program and not opt them into it.

Is This Change Going to Bankrupt Employers?

While it is true that there are more eligible married couples now, that will not necessarily cost businesses more in the end. Companies that provided coverage for same-sex domestic partnerships are actually likely to be spending less money now to cover same-sex marriage couples due to changes in tax law. Additionally, now that there is a blanket term for being married or not, there is less paperwork and payroll taxes for employers to deal with. This could ultimately save them trouble and time, which, as we have all heard, is money.

Sounds Like Overall Good News for Same-Sex Couples… Right?

Looking at the ruling and the employment law changes it has actually brought about, LGBTQ activists surely see this as a victory for their cause and community. Taking a step back and considering the bigger picture, however, tells of further controversies and conflicts that might quickly be rising on the horizon. More than half of the states in America, including Texas, do not provide legal protection against workplace and employment discrimination that targets people based on their sexual orientation.

Although there are no laws in place that explicitly protect same-sex couples and members of the LGBTQ community from on-the-job discrimination, such as firings or wage cuts, in Texas, that does not mean that a case cannot be made that pursues justice for mistreated individuals.

Dial 713.581.9001 to set up your free initial consultation if you need legal assistance with a discrimination case.

Categories: Employment Law