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December 2022: U.S. Congress Passes Landmark Bill Protecting Same-Sex Marriage

21 Dec


Update Applicable to:
All employers.

What happened?
On December 13, 2022, President Biden signed an amendment to the “Respect for Marriage Act” into law, requiring states to fully recognize such marriages that are legally formed in other states.

What are the details and what should employers do?
While the Respect for Marriage Act does not afford any additional rights to workers than what is already available under the current Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) precedent, employers should take this opportunity to review their benefits offerings – as well as their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies – to ensure they align with current federal law and any applicable state and local laws.

Insured group health plans will continue to permit same-sex spouses to elect coverage just as opposite-sex spouses. And, while self-funded group health plans could attempt to exclude same-sex spouses, existing judicial precedent and the EEOC’s interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in this context likely means doing so would invite a legal challenge.

Employers should also ensure their DEI policies align with the 2020 SCOTUS decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, holding that Title VII shields workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Likewise, you should note that many states have laws protecting LGBTQ workers that predate the SCOTUS ruling and may provide additional rights.

In light of these developments, you should also consider providing training to employees – particularly managers and human resources staff involved with hiring, promotion, discipline, and discharge – to ensure they are aware that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected categories and cannot be the basis of any employment decisions.

For more information, please see the links below:

Respect for Marriage Act

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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