The United States Supreme Court (Obergefell v. Hodges) recently struck down prohibitions on gay marriage in states covered by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. This means that employers are now legally obligated to provide the same benefits to employees in a same sex marriage that is available to those employees in a traditional marriage. Firms should also be aware that an employee in a same sex marriage now has leave benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), requiring covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of leave per year for employees dealing with their own serious health conditions or that of a close family member; that close family member now includes the same sex spouse. After updating their employee manuals, firms should make sure that the employee benefits triggered by spousal status are applied the same way to employees in both traditional and same-sex marriages.
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