We spoke too soon, as a U.S. district judge in Texas has placed a temporary hold on the new definition of spouse for FMLA purposes, contrary to our earlier report below.
The hold arises from a lawsuit filed by attorneys general in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska, which argues that the new definition violates the Full Faith and Credit Statute in section two of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is still in effect. That statute provides 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.”
The injunction means that companies will have to follow the “place of residence” standard in granting FMLA leave to same-sex couples; in other words, same-sex couples can be granted FMLA joint leave rights only in states that recognize same-sex marriages.
Judge Reed O’Connor, who issued the ruling, has scheduled a hearing for April 13, though the Department of Justice (DOJ) moved quickly to ask him to lift the injunction.
Original report: The Department of Labor (DOL) Final Rule redefining spouse for purposes of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave took effect this past Friday, March 27.
The revised definition recognizes same-sex spouses so long as the marriage took place in a state recognizing such marriages (the “state of celebration” standard), regardless of the state in which the couple currently resides.
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