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The Impact of the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision on Your Business

As you probably know, the Supreme Court recently decided to legalize same-sex marriages.  What you may not know, however, is how this decision impacts your business.  This client alert will touch upon a few of the changes that employers will need to make in order to comply with the law.

On June 26th, the Supreme Court determined that same-sex marriage is a right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.  The Supreme Court’s decision overrules any state laws that had prohibited same-sex marriage.  All of the states, including Pennsylvania, must now issue licenses to those couples that enter into a same-sex marriage and recognize same-sex marriages that have been licensed in other states.
 
This decision impacts employers in a number of ways:

•    FMLA Benefits: You must allow an employee to take FMLA leave to care for a same-sex spouse.
•    Employee Handbooks, Policies & Procedures:  Any internal guidelines should be reviewed and updated to extend same-sex spouses the same rights as opposite-sex spouses.
    COBRA: Same-sex spouses are covered by COBRA.
    Health Insurance:  If you offer health insurance for spouses, same-sex spouses must now be included.
•    Pensions, Qualified Retirement Accounts, and IRAs: Employees may need to change the beneficiary of any retirement benefits.
•    Taxes: Employees may need to update W-4 forms since married same-sex couples can now file jointly.
•    Other Benefits: Any employee benefits that extend to spouses, such as bereavement leave or tuition benefits, must be extended to same-sex spouses, as well.
 
If you have questions about the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision on your business or how to implement any of the changes mentioned, above, contact a member of MacDonald Illig’s Employment and Labor Practice Group.