FMLA leave applies to same-sex parents

On June 22, 2010, the Department of Labor issued an interpretation of of the definition of “son or daughter” under the FMLA.  The DOL gave the term “parent” an expansive view, going beyond legal or biological relationships.  Thus, any employee who assumes the role of caring for a child is a “parent” under the statute and as such is entitled to leave to care for that child.  Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis made the impact of the interpretation clear, stating “All families, including LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) families, are protected by the FMLA.”

According to the DOL, if an employer has a question about an employee’s entitlement to parental leave under the FMLA, the employer may require documentation or a statement to the effect that a family relationship exists.  A brief written statement is enough to trigger FMLA protection.