Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.

Friday, May 9, 2014

6 Ways Same-Sex Marriage Will Affect Florida Employees

There are multiple lawsuits pending in Florida challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. There's one in Key West, one in Miami, one in federal court in Tallahassee, and there are probably some more out there. It's almost inevitable that the ban on gay marriage will be overturned here soon.

So why does an employment lawyer care about gay marriage? Here are just some of the laws that will affect Florida employees and employers once gay couples can marry:

  1. Florida Civil Rights Act: The Florida statute against discrimination covers marital status. And I'm betting plenty of backwards Florida employers will discriminate when their gay employees get married.
  2. Family and Medical Leave Act: Finally, Florida gay couples will be able to take leave to care for a sick spouse.
  3. Benefits: Gay spouses will have to be included in employee benefit plans such as insurance and pension. That includes recognizing a same-sex marriage as a qualifying event to enroll a spouse.
  4. Tax filing status: Married gay employees will be able to change the number of deductions they claim.
  5. Privilege: Right now, I have to boot same-sex partners from confidential attorney-client meetings because there's no privilege between same-sex partners. Once they're married, I can finally include them. I hate, hate, hate having to inform gay couples how backward Florida law is on this, so gay marriage will be a welcome relief.
  6. Confidentiality provisions: Many severance and other employment contracts have confidentiality provisions that prohibit telling anyone but immediate family or spouse. Married gay couples will finally be able to share this vital information with partners.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that same-sex marriage will soon be allowed in Florida. I'm absolutely, 100% for it. I look forward to a time when we look back on these times like we look back on school integration - with shame for the years of discrimination, pride that Americans eventually do the right thing and nostalgia.

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.