U.S. Department of Labor Updates FMLA Guidance About Who Is A “Spouse” Following Supreme Court Ruling

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, No. 12-307 (U.S. June 26, 2013) is causing various federal agencies to clarify existing regulations and guidance, including the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the provision in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denied federal benefits to legally married, same-sex spouses unconstitutional.

The DOL has issued updated guidance under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to acknowledge that spousal leave for same-sex spouses may be available under the FMLA. The FMLA provides unpaid job-protected leave and continuation of group health insurance benefits to eligible employees who need to take leave for specified family and medical reasons (including caring for a spouse with a serious health condition or for activities related to a spouse’s military deployment).

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