Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Jersey Recognizes Same Sex Marriages - Why it Matters for Pennsylvania Employers

On Monday, New Jersey became the fourteenth state to allow same sex marriages.A trial court ordered that such marriages would begin on Monday. Governor Christie appealed to the state Supreme Court, but after a an adverse preliminary ruling he saw the writing on the wall. He withdrew his appeal.

Why does this matter to Pennsylvania employers? Well, if a Pennsylvania employer has an employee who lives in New Jersey and has a same sex spouse, then he or she may qualify for FMLA leave to care for that spouse. If a same sex couple gets married in New Jersey, then they are treated as married for federal tax purposes regardless of where they live. Such couples are also recognized as "spouses" under the Department of Labor's guidance on ERISA (addressing benefits plans).

Welcome to the post-Windsor world! Employers must keep tabs on what other states are doing with same sex marriages to properly handle taxes, benefits, FMLA leave, and a host of other federal law issues.