U.S. Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Decision Impacts Ohio Employers

U.S. Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Decision Impacts Ohio Employers

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Obergefell, et al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Dept. of Health, and held that laws, including Ohio's, which exclude same sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite sex couples are invalid and unconstitutional.

The effect of their decision is that the states, including Ohio, must allow same sex couples to get married.  The decision also requires states, including Ohio, to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when the marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of the State of Ohio.

The decision of Obergefell, et al. v. Hodges will have implications for Ohio employers. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated Ohio laws which previously prohibited same sex marriages and laws which previously did not recognize out of state same sex marriages, Ohio employers would be wise to consider providing the same benefits to lawfully married same sex couples as it provides to lawfully married opposite sex couples.

An example of these benefits include leaves of absence to care for spouses with serious health conditions under the Family Medical Leave Act. In addition, if an employer offers health insurance coverage to married spouses of employees, employers should consider offering such health insurance coverage to married spouses of employees whether they are of the same sex or opposite sex.

Employers would be wise to update their policies to reflect equal treatment of benefits for same sex legally married couples if the employer provides those same benefits to opposite sex legally married couples.

_____________ 

Martin J. Boetcher is a laywer practicing in employment law and workers compensation law at Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell, Ltd. He can be reached at (330) 744-111 or mboetcher@hhmlaw.com.