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Same-Sex Marriage Must Be Recognized by New Jersey Employers

New Jersey began to recognize same-sex marriages in October 2013 based on a unanimous decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Marriage can have major financial implications — largely for the better — for the couple and their dependents. Just a look at how it affects employee benefits helps illustrate this point.

Employers who provide health insurance to employees, for example, previously had the option of not recognizing civil unions on matters of employee benefits. Also, if health insurance benefits were extended to same-sex partners in civil unions, it came with an added price tag: federal and state governments regarded it as extra income, requiring either the employer or the recipient couple (often both) to pay taxes on that benefit.

Interestingly, the U.S. Department of Labor has ruled that the state in which a same-sex couple works or resides really isn’t relevant anyway, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision supporting the constitutionality of gay marriage in June 2013. What matters is whether the couple is legally married in any one of the jurisdictions that allow same-sex marriages, which now include New Jersey. This means the following:

  • Same-sex married couples who live and work in New Jersey are eligible for all employee benefits that opposite-sex married couples have enjoyed for years.
  • Same-sex married couples who were married in another state — either before or after the New Jersey law took effect — are entitled to the same employee benefits.
  • Same-sex couples married in New Jersey or another jurisdiction that allows gay marriage are to be treated the same as opposite-sex couples, regardless of where they live or work. This is a key federal provision that effectively extends rights and benefits to couples living in Pennsylvania, for example, where gay marriage is currently banned.

There are other employee benefits, such as inheritance transfers of retirement funds, that now are protected from federal and state taxation. Speak with an attorney if your employer is denying you these benefits.

 

 

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Neil H. Deutsch
Senior Partner

About Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for…

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Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey's premiere practitioners of employment and civil litigation. Mr. Atkins has also been included in the Thomson Reuters list of New Jersey Super Lawyers* in Employment Litigation since 2005. Mr. Atkins believes employees have rights that should be aggressively pursued when an employer has wrongfully dealt…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt
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About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blowing matters.  He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a…

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Robert J. Pantina
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About Robert J. Pantina joined the firm in 2018. Mr. Pantina received his B.A. from Rider University in 2008. He received his J.D. from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2017. While in law school, Mr. Pantina interned for the Hon. Bonnie J. Mizdol, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of…

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Diane Englander Peyser
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About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins, PC in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins, PC, Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination, disability discrimination, FMLA, New…

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