TX Court Stays Implementation of New Rule Extending FMLA Eligibility to All Married Same-Sex Couples

Late last month, a federal court in Texas issued a stay delaying implementation of a new Department of Labor Rule that would allow same-sex couples to access leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for their same-sex spouse, regardless of whether their marriage is recognized in the state where they live. The court’s decision applies to only four states – Texas, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Louisiana – and, until resolved, will prevent same-sex married couples living in those states from using FMLA leave to care for one another. Married couples living in the other handful of states that do not recognize same-sex marriages should currently be able to access leave under FMLA.

The court’s decision to stay the rule’s implementation was issued on March 26, just one day before the rule went into effect throughout the country. The State of Texas, which filed the challenge to the rule, argued that the Department of Labor’s new requirements forced the state to choose between violating federal regulations, or their state constitution. Texas is one of only thirteen states that do not currently recognize same-sex marriages.

The Department of Justice, the federal agency responsible for defending the new rule, has scheduled a hearing on April 10th to ask the court to lift the stay. We will share updates regarding the result of that hearing with you after that date.

Learn more about the ability of LGBTQ-headed families and same-sex couples to access FMLA leave by reading our FMLA FAQ.

You can also learn about the new rule, the Texas court challenge, and FMLA benefits by visiting the Department of Labor’s Spouse web portal here.