Due to a final decision by the United States Department of Labor that took
effect on March 27th, 2015, state rulings on same-sex marriages no longer affect Family Medical
Leave Act (FMLA) eligibility. Before the change, married same-sex couples
could only apply for
FMLA benefits and relief in a state that recognized the legal binding of their marriage.
Now, for example, a same-sex couple that is married in California can
move to and find employment in Texas – a state that does not recognize
same-sex marriages (circa May 2015) – and still be eligible for
benefits under the FMLA.
This all came about due to a Supreme Court decision rendered in the
United States vs. Windsor case. It was ruled that the Fifth Amendment was violated when the federal
definition of marriage was restricted to only heterosexual couples. It
will be interesting to see what other laws and federal organizations are
altered due to this ruling, as the implications certainly do not end here.
Protect Your Rights to FMLA Benefits as a Married Same-Sex Couple
It is important to note that you and your same-sex partner will only be
eligible for FMLA benefits if your marriage was legally recognized in
the state it was performed, not where you currently live. With that said,
it is entirely possible that employers in states that do not have the
same definition of marriage are trying to sidestep the law and deny same-sex
married couples the FMLA benefits they deserve.
In general, the FMLA will allow eligible employees to take 12 weeks’
worth of leave during a year should the following circumstances occur:
- Your child is born or you must care for a child under one year old
- You adopt or become the foster parent of a child
- Your spouse, child, or parent becomes debilitated by serious illness or injury
- You are unable to continue work due to severe injury or illness
If you and your same-sex partner were married in a state that recognizes
your marriage and then moved to another state that does not, you may be
eligible for FMLA relief during trying and dire situations. If you feel
that your rights are being denied by your employer, you need to
contact a Houston employment law attorney from Moore & Associates right away.
For more than a decade, we have been proudly serving our clients in a range of cases, both big
and small. When it comes to protecting the rights of you and so many other
employees like you, we never back down from a fight.