Proposed Amendment to FMLA Spouse Definition

Proposed Amendment to FMLA Spouse Definition

Last year, in the case of United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional.  The President instructed the Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure the decision, including its implications for federal benefits and programs, is implemented.  In light of this directive, the United States Department of Labor is moving to update the FMLA definition of spouse under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

The United States Department of Labor proposes to define spouse under the FMLA as follows:

“Spouse, as defined in the statute, means a husband or wife. For purposes of this definition, husband or wife refers to the other person with whom an individual entered into marriage as defined or recognized under State law for purposes of marriage in the State in which the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside of any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and could have been entered into in at least one State. This definition includes an individual in a same-sex or common law marriage that either (1) was entered into in a State that recognizes such marriages or,(2) if entered into outside of any State, is valid in the place where entered into and could have been entered into in at least one State.”

Under the proposed rule, all legally married couples will have the same FMLA rights, irrespective of residence, given the proposed rule’s broad definition.

 

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