How does the strike of PA’s same-sex marriage ban affect your company?

by | May 22, 2014 | Our Blog | 0 comments

Earlier this week, federal courts ruled that the Pennsylvania ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. Now that gay marriage is legal in our state, how does this impact local employers?


  1. FMLA. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. However, the FMLA defines the family member as “a husband or wife as defined or recognized under State law for purposes of marriage in the State where the employee resides.” Since same-sex marriage is now allowed in PA, if an employee seeks FMLA leave to care for a same-sex spouse with a serious health condition, your company is legally required to provide the leave for that employee.
  2. ERISA. The Employee Benefits Security Administration has released “Guidance to Employee Benefit Plans on the Definition of “Spouse” and “Marriage” under ERISA and the Supreme Court’s Decision in the United States v. Winsor”. EBSA determined that the word “spouse” refers to any individuals who are lawfully married under any state law, which now applies to PA’s same-sex married couples.
  3. Mini-COBRA. Pennsylvania’s Mini-COBRA applies to employers with 2-19 employees and the employees’ eligible dependents. “Eligible dependent” is defined by law to include the employee’s spouse. Therefore, going forward, same-sex spouses need to be covered as eligible dependents in Pennsylvania.