For Immediate Release
LGBT Advocate Applauds Labor Department for Expanding Family and Medical Leave to Gay Couples
WASHINGTON - The Wall Street Journal has confirmed that the U.S. Labor Department has issued guidance to inform employers, employees, and federal courts about an important change under the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. According to the new guidance, the FMLA now protects gay and lesbian married couples.
“Freedom to Work endorsed Tom Perez for Labor Secretary because we know him to be a champion for good jobs for everyone, so we are thrilled that the Labor Department has issued public guidance that will let employers and federal courts know that gay and lesbian married couples must be treated with respect when they seek workplace leave to take care of a same-sex spouse that gets into an accident or is diagnosed with an illness,” explained Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, a national organization dedicated to ending workplace discrimination. “Given the incredible passion and intellect that Secretary Perez brings to these important issues, we remain hopeful that he will continue to push to expand LGBT career opportunity and persuade the Obama White House to join the Labor Department in standing on the right side of history on LGBT workplace issues.”
The Family & Medical Leave Act entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Prior to the ruling against DOMA, the Labor Department didn’t require employers to grant married gay couples leave if one spouse in the relationship fell ill and needed care because DOMA prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriage. But with DOMA out of the picture, the Obama administration is free to enforce FMLA on behalf of married same-sex couples. Gay and lesbian employees can also enforce their FMLA rights in federal court.
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FreedomtoWork.org is a national organization committed to banning workplace harassment and career discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender Americans through public education, policy analysis, and legal work.