The United States Supreme Court's landmark ruling in United States v. Windsor struck down section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"), which defined "marriage" for purposes of federal benefits as a union between a man and a woman. In addition to extending federal recognition to lawful same-sex unions, the Windsor decision also raises a number of important employment and benefits issues for employers in states that recognize lawful same-sex marriages and partnerships. For example:

  • Employers should review their payroll practices to ensure that lawful same-sex partners receive the same federal tax benefits as traditional married couples;
  • Employers should review their Family & Medical Leave Act policies to ensure that they permit employees to take qualified leave to care for their lawful same-sex partners; and
  • Employers should review their retirement and medical benefit plans to ensure that they provide the same spousal benefits to lawful same-sex partners and traditional married couples.