Workplace Culture

Legal Briefing: Workforce Policies Should Be the Same After Same-Sex Ruling

By Mark Kobata

Aug. 28, 2015

On June 26, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution requires that all states license marriages between two people of the same sex and recognize a marriage between people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of stateAlthough theObergefell decision does not directly address employment law issues, it will likely affect many employment law practices and policies.

For example, since many state and local anti-discrimination laws include “marital status” as a protected class, same-sex marriages now fall within that protected status, such that employers cannot treat people in same-sex marriages differently than employees in opposite-sex marriage or unmarried employees. Similarly, leave of absence and other employee benefit policies will be revised or interpreted to mean that “spouse” includes a same-sex spouse.

IMPACT: Employers should review their employment policies and practices to begin interpreting spouse to include same-sex spouse. 

Mark T. Kobata and Marty Denis are partners in the law firm Barlow, Kobata and Denis, which has office in Beverly Hills, California, and Chicago. To comment, email




Mark Kobata and Marty Denis are partners at the law firm Barlow, Kobata and Denis, which has offices in Beverly Hills, California, and Chicago.


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