The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has made a final ruling that redefines the meaning of “spouse” under the 1993 Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). According to the ruling, more legally married same-sex couples may now take advantage of the benefits offered under the FMLA, including taking protected, unpaid leave from their jobs for family reasons

In the past, eligible married gay and lesbian employees would only have rights under the FMLA if they were employed in a state that recognized same-sex marriage. Now, due to the new DOL ruling, the legal status of a marriage under the FMLA depends on “place of celebration” instead of the “state of residence.” In other words, if a same-sex couple married in New York but now lives and works in Texas, the couple would now have FMLA rights even though Texas does not allow or recognize same-sex marriages.

The ruling was made on February 25, 2015, and went into effect on March 27, 2015.  You can read more about the revision by clicking here.

The Family Medical Leave Act

Signed into law in 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act entitles certain employees to take unpaid, protected leave from their jobs in the case of a family transition or family medical issue. Specifically, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year

  • To care for his or her family after the birth or adoption of a child.
  • To care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition.
  • To deal with a personal illness or health condition that makes it impossible to work.
  • To care for his or her family when a spouse, child, or parent is on active military duty

An employee is eligible for FMLA benefits if:

  • He or she works for a covered employer.
  • He or she has held the job for at least one year.
  • He or she works in a location that has more than 50 employees within 75 miles.

Upon the employee’s return to work, he or she must be offered the same job as when they left or else given an equivalent job with equivalent pay and benefits.

Your FMLA Rights in Michigan

If you believe that your employer is preventing you from fully exercising your FMLA rights, you may wish to speak with a Michigan employment law attorney. Whether your situation concerns issues surrounding same-sex marriage or the Family & Medical Leave Act, the lawyers in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group have the skill, knowledge, and compassion to help. Contact us today learn more about our services and how we can help you.

Tad T. Roumayah

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Tad T. Roumayah

Tad Roumayah focuses his practice primarily on employment litigation, representing employees who have encountered discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblower protection claims, wage and hour violations and other employment issues and disputes.