In a landmark decision issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges that marriage is a fundamental right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, thus upholding marriage equality and the right for same-sex couples to marry in all states. While the full impact of this decision is yet to be seen, in light of the Court’s ruling, employers should take action to review and revise any employment policies which may be impacted by this decision, as same-sex spouses will now be eligible to receive certain benefits to which they may not have been previously afforded.
Employers may need to make administrative changes to cover same-sex spouses in states where they were not previously covered. In particular, employers will want to ensure that all employee benefit plans, Family and Medical Leave Act policies, and any other company policies which provided benefits to opposite-sex spouses but previously precluded such benefits from same-sex spouses are amended accordingly. For example, employers must modify enrollment processes and consent and eligibility forms. Additionally, employers should be prepared to address how the state income tax treatment of employer-provided benefits could change for some individuals.
If you have any questions on this decision and its immediate impact on your business, please do not hesitate to contact any of the attorneys at The Lowenbaum Partnership. Please also look for additional updates and a more detailed discussion from our firm on how this decision will affect employers.
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