FMLA spousal rule on hold

The new rule defining “spouse” so that eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages will be able to take FMLA leave to care for their spouse or family member, regardless of where they live was set to take effect on March 27, 2015.

However, a federal judge with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted a request made by the states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska (the “states”) for a preliminary injunction with respect to the Final Rule.

The Plaintiff states contend that the new rule violated the federal Full Faith and Credit Statute (Section 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was not the part of the DOMA that was struck down by the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor). The statute, which is still in effect, says that “No State . . . shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State . . . respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State . . ..” By requiring the states to recognize same-sex marriages entered into in other states, the FMLA rule violated Section 2 of the DOMA, the plaintiffs said.

The plaintiffs also argued that the FMLA rule, by requiring state agencies to recognize employees’ same-sex marriages for FMLA purposes, violated those states’ own laws and constitutional provisions, which require that marriage be between one man and one woman.

For more information on the preliminary injunction with respect to the Department’s Final Rule revising the regulatory definition of spouse under FMLA, please visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/.

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