In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the United States Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state. Obergefell v. Hodges, __ U.S. __, No. 14-556 (June 26, 2015), available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf. The Court based its decision on the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause.
This decision will impact employers across the United States in several ways:
- Outdated policies. Employers may need to revise their policies both from a sensitivity standpoint and a legal standpoint. For example, an employer may currently offer health insurance benefits for same-sex domestic partners. The employer may wish to eliminate this coverage now that a person involved in a same-sex relationship may get married and obtain coverage for a spouse.
- Family and Medical Leave Act decisions. An employer must grant FMLA leave to an employee who needs the time to care for a same-sex spouse.
- Discrimination matters. While the Court’s opinion does not expand Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to cover sexual orientation, an employer should attempt to prevent any harassment in the workplace regarding a person’s sexual orientation as well as address any issues that arise in connection with conversations regarding the Court’s ruling.
This article is presented by the Dallas employment attorneys at Clouse Dunn LLP. To speak to an employment law attorney, send an email to [email protected] or call (214) 239-2705.
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