Monday, June 23, 2014

DOL Proposes New Definition of "Spouse" for FMLA

The Department of Labor proposed a new rule, redefining "spouse" under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You can read the DOL's notice here. The new definition will specifically affect same-sex marriages:
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.
First, the new definition changes from a "state of residence" rule to a "place of celebration" rule - in other words, the recognition of same-sex marriages will be based on the laws of the state in which the marriage took place instead of the laws of the state in which the employee resides. The new definition also affords protection to same-sex couples who got legally married outside of the United States.