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Sexual orientation discrimination suit against Walmart settled

A class action against Walmart that we previously reported about has settled. The case involved Walmart’s refusal to provide health insurance to spouses of gay and lesbian employees. Walmart began providing health insurance to the spouses of gay and lesbian employees in 2014 but continued to maintain that the law did not require it to do so.

Under the terms of the settlement, Walmart will, among other things, set aside $7.5 million to compensate victims of Walmart’s discrimination and it will pay 250% of out-of-pocket expenses that victims incurred if the expenses totaled $60,000 or more. More than a thousand people have been identified who will be eligible for compensation but there could be more. As part of the settlement, Walmart also agreed to continue to treat same-sex and opposite-sex spouses the same when administering benefits.

The lead plaintiff in the case, Jacqueline Cote, said, “I’m pleased that Walmart was willing to resolve this issue for me and other associates who are married to someone of the same sex. It’s a relief to bring this chapter of my life to a close.”

Sally Welborn, Senior Vice President, Global Benefits for Walmart, said, “We’re happy both sides could come together to reach a resolution. Respect for the individual, diversity and inclusion are among the core values that made Walmart into the company that it is today. We will continue to not distinguish between same and opposite sex spouses when it comes to the benefits we offer under our health insurance plan.”