The HR Implications of the Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage

scmeAs you know by now, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can legally marry in all states. This, of course, includes Ohio who before last Friday was one of thirteen states not to recognize gay marriage.

No matter where you stand on the issue – HR professionals need to be the source of strategic guidance to their companies.

For many companies domestic partnerships (no matter the state law) have already been recognized. For others the ruling could come as a shock to the system. For all companies – and you as an HR or management professional – it is time to review your policies.

There are more than 1,100 plus laws on the book that deal with marriage, so there is a lot to sort out. In the meantime, our best advice is to be proactive. Don’t take a wait and see approach.

This involves getting policies on the books (employee handbooks, etc.) that make it clear that your organization will not tolerate discrimination in any form. It is in your best interest to spell out as many situations as possible and be specific – but discrimination can be simplified as treating someone differently for anything other than professional reasons.

As a best practice, we suggest you be proactive and supportive within your policies and back it up with training on diversity, inclusion, and discrimination.

It is also imperative that you define how employees are judged – which is solely on their performance and cultural alignment within the organization – and by cultural fit this ONLY applies to a professional fit, not personal reasons or beliefs.

Don’t wait for the legislative downfall – plan and remove barriers now. This is not a debatable issue or one to develop a strategy over. It is straightforward. Forward thinking companies have already had a non-toleration policy in place – whether you do or not, there is no time to waste. If you need help, our consulting team can take you through this process, including discussion of the many advantages to your organization and your employees in cultural impact, benefit plan administration, and taxable implications.


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