In the news and on many people’s minds this week was the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry and striking down bans on same-sex marriage across the country. But how will this decision affect family responsibilities discrimination? We look at this landmark decision and briefly mention other news in this week’s update.
Marriage Equality: Implications for Family Responsibilities Discrimination
This past week, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges and made civil rights history. Holding that states must license and recognize marriages of same-sex couples, the Court declared that the 14th Amendment’s recognition of a fundamental right to marry extends to same-sex couples. While we know this means that same-sex marriage bans are no longer legal, it’s not clear what’s next, but many are speculating. You can read what people are saying about the implications of the decisions in the LA Times, the Boston Herald, and the Washington Post.
For family responsibilities discrimination, we know that state family leave and disability accommodations and discrimination laws will need to be updated if their definition of “spouse” specifically excludes same-sex married couples because the state did not recognize those marriages.
But the decision also has implications for federal laws. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) defines “spouse” according to state law. So, while married same-sex spouses might not have been FMLA-eligible in states that did not recognize their marriage, they will be eligible as a result of Obergefell. To learn more about the connection between the decision and the FMLA, read this article in HR News.
What the decision does not do is provide any protections for employees who marry their same-sex partners. In fact, an employer can fire or refuse to hire employees without cause because of their identification as gay or lesbian. Many LGBT community advocates say that gaining workplace discrimination protections is an important next step for equality. Read more from Care2 and the Washington Post.
Other Family Responsibilities Discrimination News
EEOC Issues Updated Pregnancy Discrimination Guidance
This week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued updated pregnancy discrimination guidance to take into account the Supreme Court’s decision in Young v. UPS issued earlier this year. The amended guidance clarifies that employees “may be able to prove unlawful pregnancy discrimination if the employer accommodated some workers but refused to accommodate pregnant women.” Read the EEOC’s press release about the updates here.
Connecticut Extends Discrimination Protections to Unpaid Interns
Connecticut passed a law this week that extends state employment harassment, discrimination, and retaliation laws to unpaid interns. Learn about the law from JD Supra.
Big Settlements This Week
Noodles Asian Bistro
The Tennessee company settled pregnancy discrimination claims for $25K after it fired two servers for being “too big” to wait on tables. Read the whole story here.
US Park Police
The US Park Police was called out on its discriminatory policy requiring female employees to immediately report their pregnancies and provide a letter from their doctor stating that they could still work. A former Park Police Detective received $300K to settle her pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. Read more from the Washington Post.
The Tennessee elevator and escalator company was required to pay $85,000 to an employee after it refused to rehire the employee, in spite of a mediation agreement where it agreed to note the employee as eligible for rehire. The EEOC said that the breach of the agreement amounted to retaliation for filing the original charge. Read the whole story here.