On the eve of the March 27, 2015 effective date for the DOL’s final rule amending the definition of “spouse” under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), a Texas district court preliminarily enjoined the rule’s application to the states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska. The case is Texas v. U.S., No. 7:15-cv-0056 (N.D. Texas 2015) and the full opinion may be found here.
Under the final rule, employers must look to the state where the marriage was entered into (instead of the state in which the employee resides) to determine the employee’s spouse. The revised definition of spouse includes same-sex marriages, common law marriages, and same-sex marriages entered into abroad that could have been entered into legally in at least one state. The rule was enacted in response to the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, which held that the definition of marriage (between one man and one woman as husband and wife) in Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. However, Section 2 of DOMA, the Full Faith and Credit Statute, which allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, was unaffected by the ruling.
In their pleading, the states argued that the final rule should be enjoined because it contradicted the Full Faith and Credit Statute, the statutory definition of marriage in the FMLA, and their individual state laws – which do not recognize same-sex marriages. The district court found that in issuing the final rule, the DOL had exceeded its jurisdiction and had improperly preempted state law. The DOL filed a motion to reconsider the injunction, but the district court denied the request on April 10, 2015.
The final rule is in effect for all other states. However, the Supreme Court will hear arguments later this month regarding the issue of whether states which do not recognize same-sex marriages should be forced to recognize unions performed in other jurisdictions. The outcome of that case may affect the Texas ruling and/or the FMLA obligations of employers in other states. Stay tuned…
Acting on reaction to a proposed and subsequently withdrawn regulation from October 2010 and attempting to address concerns expressed by both interested parties to the initial proposed regulation and an economic analysis by the Council of Economic Advisors (that the […]
On April 16, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) finally gave a peek into its thinking about what constitutes a “voluntary” wellness program under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”). Recall that, while there are extensive wellness rules […]
In response to comments from the employee benefits community, the IRS has issued two updates in quick succession for the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS). The new procedures – Rev. Proc. 2015-27 and Rev. Proc. 2015-28 – do not […]
Companies should be aware that at least some major accounting firms are questioning whether discretionary aspects of clawback policies trigger variable accounting for compensatory equity awards granted by those companies. Existing accounting guidance (ASC 718-10-30-24) would seem to suggest that […]
For many years, medical plan drafting was viewed as a commodity. Insurance companies, third-party administrators and brokers often prepared summary plan descriptions and plan documents for self-insured medical plans using form documents. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act […]
Previously in this series of blog posts relating to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), we discussed which couples do not have FMLA rights under the definition of “spouse,” as well as the limitations that can be placed […]
In the past few years, several large pension plan sponsors have sought to decrease the risk associated with their pension plans by purchasing group annuities to cover future payments or by offering a lump sum window during which eligible participants […]
In a prior post, we discussed which couples do not have federal FMLA rights under the new regulatory definition of “spouse.” Now that we know who can and can’t take FMLA leave as a husband or wife, the next question […]
The U.S. Department of Labor’s issuance of a final rule amending the definition of “spouse” in the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) regulations has inspired us to prepare a new series of FMLA-related blog posts on the subject […]