Department of Labor Announces Final Rule on Definition of Spouse under the FMLA

By: Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, P.L.C.

The Department of Labor (DOL) will publish a Final Rule this week revising the regulatory definition of “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).  The changes will allow eligible employees in same-sex marriages to take FMLA leave to care for their spouses or family members, regardless of where the employee resides.  The DOL issues the Final Rule in response to the Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision in U.S. v. Windsor, which held section 3 of The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional.  Prior to Windsor, the FMLA regulations defined the term “spouse” based on the marriage laws of the state where the employee resides.   Now, the regulations require employers to look to the laws of the state where the employee entered into the marriage.  According to the DOL, the revisions are intended to ensure that spouses in same-sex marriages have the same ability as all spouses to exercise their FMLA rights.

FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, including certain military family leave provisions.  The effective date for the final rule is March 27, 2015.

Arizona is one of over 30 states that recognize same-sex marriage.  Employers covered under FMLA should review their employment policies to ensure they are in compliance with the new regulations.

The DOL’s announcement and the text of the Final Rule can be found here:


Legal Disclaimer
Please note that the materials contained within this client alert have been prepared by Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, P.L.C. for informational purposes only so that readers may learn more about recent developments in the law, as well as the firm, the services it provides, and information on its attorneys. These materials do not constitute, and should not be considered, legal advice, and you are urged to consult with an attorney on your own specific legal matters. Transmission of the information contained in the Jennings, Strouss & Salmon web site is not intended to create, and receipt by the reader does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship with Jennings, Strouss & Salmon or any of its individual attorneys. While we would certainly like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Please do not send us any information about a matter that may involve you until you receive written authorization to do so from one of our attorneys. Unless otherwise indicated in individual attorney biographies, attorneys resident in the firm’s various offices are not certified by the Board of Legal Specialization or a similar body of any state. This client alert may contain hyperlinks to websites operated by parties’ independent from Jennings, Strouss & Salmon. Such hyperlinks are provided for your reference only. Jennings, Strouss & Salmon does not control such websites, and is not responsible for their content. Jennings, Strouss & Salmon’s inclusion of hyperlinks to such websites does not imply any endorsement of the material on such websites or any association with their content. Your access and use of such sites, including information, material, products, and services therein, shall be solely at your own risk. Further, because the privacy policy of this message is applicable only when you are viewing it, once linked to another website, you should read that site’s privacy policy before disclosing any personal information. Jennings, Strouss & Salmon retains copyright of original content created in this client alert. If you wish to use information from this client alert, please contact for authorization.

©2015 All Rights Reserved, Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PLC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *