On May 20, 2014, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III struck down both Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, and its prohibition against recognition of same-sex marriages legally entered into in other jurisdictions, on the grounds that such laws violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The ruling in Whitewood v. Wolf now permits same-sex couples to marry in Pennsylvania, and recognizes the marriages of already married same-sex couples. Governor Tom Corbett has stated he will not appeal the decision.
With the decision in Whitewood, Pennsylvania now joins eighteen other states and the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex marriage. The Whitewood decision will have a significant impact in employers on a variety of matters, including leave under the Family Medical Leave Act and benefits.
Employers should review their employee benefit plans and handbooks to ensure compliance with the Whitewood decision. If you need assistance in reviewing your plans, handbooks, or policies, or have questions regarding the Whitewood decision, please contact Amanda Lavis.