Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court in its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges rendered same-sex marriage as the law of the land in all 50 states. This blog is not about the wisdom or reasoning of the decision (for analysis on that you can check out, well, basically anywhere else on the web). But regardless of your feelings, all employers must make very minor modifications to their policies to ensure that they are in compliance with what is now unquestionably federal law.
Most tellingly, the definition of “spouse” now must be modified in states that previously did not recognize same-sex unions. If you consult your employee handbook you will likely find the word in numerous places under such topics as medical leave, conflict of interest, and equal opportunity (many jurisdictions, including my home state of New Jersey, recognize marital status as a protected classification in employment discrimination laws). We recommend that all handbooks be updated periodically to allow for new developments in the law that can render your policies outdated.
Finally, remember that any discussion of the case and its significant ramifications should be limited in the workplace. We’ve talked before about how even well-intentioned discussion of current events can give rise to a claim of discrimination. Be mindful of the impact of these types of discussions on LGBT employees and their straight allies.