Will Oregon Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Impact Oregon Employers’ Policies?

Probably not – if the employers are already compliant with Oregon’s rules regarding same-sex domestic partners.  As early as 2008, Oregon law required employers to treat same-sex domestic partners the same way “spouses” are treated with respect to benefits and other terms of employment.  Thus, with the exception of amending policies to reflect that a “spouse” can be of the same or the opposite sex, employers should not need to make significant changes to policies.  Employers should also note that Oregon’s recognition of same-sex marriage effectively expands the definition of “spouse” under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include same sex-spouses because the FMLA regulations provide that “Spouse means a husband or wife as defined or recognized under State law for purposes of marriage in the State where the employee resides, including common law marriage in States where it is recognized.” 29 CFR 825.122(b).  However, because the Oregon Family Leave Act already includes same-sex domestic partners in the definition of “family member” for purposes of leave, the expansion of the FMLA definition should have little practical effect on employee’s leave or employer leave policies.



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