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Arizona Same-Sex Marriage Triggers FMLA Eligibility

Arizona's FMLA-covered employers must now provide leave to employees for the purpose of caring for a same-sex spouse.

Last week, same-sex marriages were made legal in Arizona. The lifting of the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages was a direct result of court rulings in Latta v. Otter and Majors v. Horne.

For Arizona employers, these decisions impact employee eligibility for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA regulations provide that employee eligibility for leave to care for a spouse is based on whether the employee's state of residence recognizes the marriage.

Now that Arizona does recognize same-sex marriage, Arizona employers that are covered by FMLA must provide FMLA leave to employees for the purpose of caring for a same-sex spouse. Additionally, the definition of "son or daughter" in FMLA policies may be impacted, as leave should now be provided to care for the children of same-sex spouses. Some employee benefit plans may also be impacted by this change.

Employers would be wise to review employee handbooks, policies, procedures and other documents to ensure compliance.

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