Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Windsor, DOMA and Qualified Retirement Plans

As we previously reported, on June 26, 2013, in the case of U.S. v. Windsor , the U.S. Supreme Court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – which defined “marriage” as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and “spouse” as only “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife” – was unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment. The Court’s decision in Windsor means that the marriage-dependent federal rights and privileges which, because of DOMA, were previously unavailable to same-sex couples, will now apply to qualifying same-sex married couples. This change will impact certain employment rights, as well as the nature and administration of the programs and benefits that many employers provide to their employees. For a comprehensive discussion of these areas which will be impacted and the outstanding questions that remain after Windsor, please see our article here.

From FMLA to FSAs: Employee Health Issues Post-DOMA

As we previously reported, on June 26, 2013, in the case of U.S. v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – which defined “marriage” as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and “spouse” as only “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife” – was unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment.  The Court’s decision in Windsor means that the marriage-dependent federal rights and privileges which, because of DOMA, were previously unavailable to same-sex couples, will now apply to qualifying same-sex married couples.  This change will impact a number of health related employee rights and benefits (for more discussion on other areas of employment law that will be impacted see our article here).  It is therefore critical that employers be aware of which specific areas will be affected and what actions they will need to take to address these changes.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ramadan Begins – A Reminder for Accommodations

 An employer’s legal obligation to reasonably  accommodate religious practices is not limited to a single religion or a particular time of year.  But, with Ramadan having begun, and running for approximately one month, this is a good time for employers to remember their legal obligations to reasonably accommodate religious practices.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Administration Delays Implementation of ACA Employer Mandate

On July 2, 2013, the Obama administration announced that it will be delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that “large” employers either provide health coverage for their employees or pay penalties (commonly known as “the employer mandate”). These requirements, which are a central part of the ACA and which were previously scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2014, will now be delayed until 2015.