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.