Questions About This Publication?
View From Groom: The Impact of Supreme Court’s DOMA Decision on EmployeeBloomberg BNA
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which provides that only persons of the opposite sex could be recognized as ‘‘spouses’’ and ‘‘married’’ for purposes of federal law, was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s DOMA decision, captioned U.S. v. Windsor (570 U.S. __ (2013)), has immediate implications for employers that sponsor retirement, health and welfare, and fringe benefit plans. Among other things, now that section 3 of DOMA has been declared unconstitutional, plan sponsors may need to make changes to their employee benefit plans to recognize same-sex spouses in the same manner that such plans recognize spouses of the opposite sex. Additionally, the Court’s decision requires employers to examine, among other things, their payroll systems and practices as well as Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policies to determine if changes are necessary as a result of the DOMA ruling.
This article provides a brief overview of the Court’s DOMA ruling, and then addresses specific steps that sponsors of retirement and health plans should take now in light of the Court’s ruling. It then discusses key operational and compliance issues that are currently unresolved, but about which plan sponsors should be aware and prepared to take action upon the issuance of guidance from federal and state regulators – as well as courts.