The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

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The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

DOL’s Proposed Rule to Extend FMLA Protections to Employees in Same-Sex Marriages

June 20, 2014 - Posted by Quaila Hugh

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today announced a proposed rule extending Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections to all employees in legal same-sex marriages regardless of whether their home state recognizes the marriage. This rule would support the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Windsor v. United States decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) almost one year ago.

“The basic promise of the FMLA is that no one should have to choose between succeeding at work and being a loving family caregiver,” Perez said. “Under the proposed revisions, the FMLA will be applied to all families equally, enabling individuals in same-sex marriages to fully exercise their rights and fulfill their responsibilities to their families.”

Passed in 1993, FMLA has allowed employees to deal with serious medical and family situations without the threat of job loss. Under the proposed rule, this right would be extended to families in the 31 states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. And while it would apply to private-sector employees only, the Office of Personnel Management is expected to announce a similar proposal to protect federal employees.

This proposal serves as a supplement to the Windsor decision that struck down DOMA, when the Court declared that legally married couples must receive federal benefits, regardless of sexual orientation. President Obama declared the Windsor decision “a victory... for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve.” Earlier this week, he also announced his plan to sign an executive order that bans federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. The proposed rule is another positive step the administration has taken to protect and support LGBT individuals.

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