- Wal-Mart is the target of a lawsuit that may settle precedent: Is discrimination against gay employees a form of sex discrimination?
- Plaintiffs in the case note that they applied for benefits coverage for their same-gender spouses, but were rejected by Wal-Mart, Bloomberg reported. Therefore, the plaintiffs are using the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that protects employees against sex discrimination to make their case because it was the sex of their spouses that caused their employer to treat them differently.
- Wal-Mart denies any wrongdoing, noting they had “the right to do” so, and opposes class-action certification, which will be decided this summer. “Before the lawsuit was filed, we attempted to resolve it, and we’ve said we remain open to further discussions,” Randy Hargrove, Walmart’s director of national media relations, told Bloomberg.
If the case is successful, it could set a precedent that expands the definition of sex discrimination, Bloomberg reports. Such precedent could apply to other types of workplace bias, too, including LGBT employees who were fired or denied any promotions due to their sexual orientation.
Judges are slowly becoming more accepting of this argument, Bloomberg reports. But in any case, the EEOC has already made their stance clear: Discrimination against LGBT workers is “inherently” a form of sex discrimination.
“If an employer comes to us and asks, ‘Is there a risk that I could be sued under the theory that Title VII extends to LGBT individuals?’ I think the answer is yes,” Cameron Smith, a labor and employment partner at Seyfarth Shaw, told Bloomberg.