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Walmart agrees to $7.5 million settlement in same-sex spouse discrimination suit

By Daniel Uria
Walmart agrees to $7.5 million settlement in same-sex spouse discrimination suit
Walmart agreed to a $7.5 million settlement in a lawsuit alleging the company discriminated against same-sex couples by denying their spouses health care in the three years prior to the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage in 2014. More than 1,000 current and former employees will potentially be eligible to receive compensation from the company. Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Walmart announced a settlement in a lawsuit accusing the company of denying same-sex spouses health insurance benefits.

Walmart agreed to pay $7.5 million to compensate more than 1,000 potentially eligible employees whose spouses were denied spousal benefits between 2011 and 2013 before the company changed its policy on Jan. 1 2014 when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, the New York Times reported.

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The company will reimburse the applicable out-of-pocket cost of health insurance for spouses of current and former employees from Jan. 1, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2013 in addition to paying 250 percent of out-of-pocket costs for spousal healthcare expenses exceeding $60,000.

"We're happy both sides could come together to reach a resolution," Sally Welborn, Walmart's senior vice president of global benefits, said in a statement. "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."

Jacqueline Cote filed the class-action lawsuit against Walmart in 2015 on behalf of other same-sex couples who were denied benefits after her lawyers argued Walmart discriminated against her because she was married to a woman.

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"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," Cote said after the settlement, according to CNN. "It's a relief to bring this chapter of my life to a close."

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