Benefits Insights, Fall 2015
This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case, requiring states to recognize marriages between same-sex couples. The ruling will likely have a significant impact on employment laws. Employers, especially those who did not recognize same-sex marriages prior to the decision, need to review current policies to ensure benefits and other practices are aligned with the new ruling.
While the decision is expected to prompt major changes for employers, the full extent remains unknown. The Court did not address whether the ruling will apply retroactively to same-sex couples who were legally married under state laws prior to June 26, 2015 – when the Obergefell v. Hodges decision was issued. Additionally, compliance may be affected by further developments, so employers should proceed cautiously and watch for additional changes.
Employers should expect to make adjustments to the terms and administration of employee benefit plans. Employers also should expect to offer all married employees the same benefit options, but there could be further issues involving taxation, domestic partner coverage, and discrimination they will need to address.