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What equal marriage ruling means for US business & employers

Michael Droke is a partner at the international law firm Dorsey and Whitney’s labour and employment division. Droke previously served as co-department head for labour and employment. As a former operations and human resources executive, the outcome of this case and the implications are of particular interest to him. Of the decision he says, "What are the implications of this case for employers and human resources professionals? The case largely does not affect many of the federal rights employees already enjoy, because those rights were protected under earlier rulings. For example, the Federal Department of Labour recently amended the regulations regarding family and medical leave in order to  expand the definition of the word "spouse" to include same-sex marriages," Droke says.

"State law rights that apply to married couples will now also apply to same-sex marriages, regardless of the laws in that particular state. These include those laws covering benefits, leaves of absence, property rights, informational rights, and the like," Droke says

"Finally, the decision ends the discussion of whether same-sex marriage rights should apply in jurisdictions that had previously been to them. Employers can have national policies on leaves of absence and similar issues without being required to justify the reasoning for these national policies with local management," Droke says.

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