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July 1, 2009

Despite California Supreme Court Ruling Domestic Partners Retain Workplace Rights

Filed under: General HR Buzz11:24 am

The California Supreme Court’s recent ruling upheld Proposition 8, which denies same sex couples the right to marry.  However that ruling does not affect registered domestic partners’ state workplace rights which are quite similar to those of heterosexual couples.

The California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act provides that registered domestic partners “have the same rights, protections, and benefits provided to married couples.”   Therefore such same sex couples would be entitled to rights under California’s family leave law, paid family disability leave, kin care, and discrimination laws.

Note, however, that such rights would not extend to federal protections.  The federal Defense of Marriage Act limits rights to marriage between a man and a woman.  Therefore federal rights under COBRA, the FMLA, ERISA, Section 125 plans, etc. would not extend to domestic partners.

The court’s ruling did not invalidate the marriages of an estimated 18,000 same sex couples who were married pre-Proposition 8.  If you are a California employer or have employees working in California, it’s probably good to review all ramifications of the court’s ruling.

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