Lawsuit filed against Wal-Mart over health insurance denied to gay worker’s wife

07/14/2015 // JusticeNewsFlash // (press release)

Boston – A lawsuit has been filed against Wal-Mart by an employee alleging that the denial of health insurance benefits to her wife was a violation of gender discrimination laws. As reported by Reuters, the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston is seeking class action status nationwide.

The employee at the center of the suit, Jackie Cote, has worked for the retail giant since 1999. She said in the lawsuit that in 2012, her wife developed cancer and she had been repeatedly denied requests to add her to her medical insurance through the company prior. Cote claims it impacted her wife’s recovery and led to her amassing $150,000 in debt.

Wal-Mart reportedly began offering health insurance benefits for spouses of the same-sex following the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2013 that struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Wal-Mart said that at the time Cote took her claims to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission federal anti-discrimination laws were not applicable for workers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and the company was not required to offer benefits to their spouses at the time.

The lawsuit states of its gender discrimination claim, “Benefits provided by Wal-Mart as a matter of grace … are not secure and could potentially be withdrawn just when large health care costs are incurred.”

Last month, a Supreme Court ruling granting same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states.

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