New FMLA Guidance Reflects DOMA Ruling
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a new fact sheet clarifying an employee’s right to job protected leave when the employee is needed to provide care for his or her spouse. According to this revised interpretation of the federal FMLA, “(s)pouse means a husband or wife as defined or recognized under state law for purposes of marriage in the state where the employee resides, including “common law” marriage and same-sex marriage.”
Although common law marriage is not recognized in Connecticut, same-sex marriage is, and in response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal FMLA standards will now be consistent with the Connecticut FMLA. Eligible employees at businesses covered by the federal FMLA (50 or more workers) as well as eligible employees at Connecticut FMLA-covered businesses (75 or more workers) will be entitled to job-protected leave time when they are needed to provide care to a same-sex spouse with a serious health condition. Such care may involve assisting with medical, safety, or other needs; help in being transported to the doctor; as well as providing psychological comfort and reassurance.
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