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Wal-Mart Settles LGBT Discrimination Lawsuit for $7.5M

Walmart settles LGBT lawsuit
Jae C. Hong/AP

An employee filed the suit in 2015 after her wife’s ovarian cancer treatment wasn’t covered by her health benefits. 

Wal-Mart has settled a lawsuit where LGBT employees accused the companies of withholding benefits for same-sex spouses.

On Friday, the global retailer agreed to pay $7.5 million to employees who experienced discriminatory benefits coverage from January 2011 to December 2013, according to Bloomberg News.

Wal-Mart employee Jacqueline Cote filed the lawsuit in 2015 when the company failed to cover her wife, Diana "Dee" Smithson, on her health plan. Smithson had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was facing $150,000 in medical bills.

Cote told Bloomberg that it was "a relief to bring this chapter of my life to a close," and Wal-Mart in its settlement vowed to "treat same-sex and opposite sex spouses equally in the provision of health insurance benefits."

Just a reminder: While agencies under the Obama administration have interpreted the Civil Rights Act to protect sexual orientation in the workplace, there is no actual legislation guaranteeing equal treatment on the basis of sexuality or gender identity.

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