Walmart to allow same-sex partners to participate in company benefits | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Walmart to allow same-sex partners to participate in company benefits

Posted By on Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 2:21 PM


click to enlarge MORE THAN A CHECK: Walmart, which contributed this check to a group that works for equality for people of different sexual orientation, has now given domestic benefits to all same-sex partners of employees.
  • MORE THAN A CHECK: Walmart, which contributed this check to a group that works for equality for people of different sexual orientation, has now given domestic benefits to all same-sex partners of employees.
This is big. Will the Republican delegation from Northwest Arkansas mount the picket lines at Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, such as the Bentonville representative who led the legislature to adopt a resolution affirming the General Assembly's belief in the rightness of discrimination against homosexuals?

From Bloomberg:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, will now allow workers’ same-sex partners to participate in its company health benefits.

Full-time associates’ spouses and domestic partners will be eligible for coverage in the company’s medical, dental, vision, life, critical illness or accident plans, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said in a postcard to employees this week that was provided to Bloomberg.

Wal-Mart, which has frequently been targeted by labor-rights groups pushing for better pay and benefits, said it made the change so it could have a consistent policy for all 50 states as some of them alter their definitions of marriage, domestic partnerships and civil unions.

“We thought it was important to develop a single definition for all Wal-Mart associates in the U.S. to give them consistency in the various markets we operate in across the country,” Randy Hargrove, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said in telephone interview.

The retailer’s definition of domestic partners includes same- or opposite-sex spouses, unmarried partners who live together for at least 12 months, are not married to anyone else and plan to continue sharing a household indefinitely, Hargrove said.

Walmart even operates in Arkansas, where constitutionally and statutorily we still believe in and practice discrimination. Nonetheless, in Arkansas, Walmart will give employees the kind of coverage enjoyed by citizens of states that believe in equality.

The company has more than 1 million U.S. employees and covers more than 1 million people in its various health plans.

We reported some time back about Walmart's strides in recognizing equality on ground of sexual orientation.

The policy, as noted, covers all types of domestic partners, but the coverage of same-sex partners is a significant stride. Perhaps it will encourage the University of Arkansas System, which has dithered for months on a similar policy for university employees. The Central Arkansas Library System provides domestic benefits for its employees. The policies are less about equal rights than the understanding that healthy families make for more productive workers.

I confirmed the policy change in a conversation myself with Randy Hargrove, who emphasized that it was part of broad improvement in the company benefit plans — including new visiion coverage, coverage for hip and knee replacements, an "all-night shopping tool" to locate medical services and the lowest premium increase for Walmart coverage in some time (3 to 10 percent).

He emphasized that the policy covered all types of domestic situations, but acknowledged that a desire to have a consistent policy in place in all 50 states grew from the changing landscape of state law and federal court rulings related to same-sex partners. And what of states where the law could be interpreted as specifically prohibiting government benefits bestowed to a married couple to a same-sex couple? That wouldn't affect Walmart in Arkansas as a private employer, but the new company policy does run counter to prevailing political sentiment in the legislature.

Hargrove said:

"Our decision is a business decision, not a moral or a political decision.."

 I've highlighted the key portion in the photo below.
DOMESTIC BENEFITS: Noted on portion of mailing to employees.
  • DOMESTIC BENEFITS: Noted on portion of mailing to employees.

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (18)

Showing 1-18 of 18

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-18 of 18

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Charter school accountability: Non-existent in Arkansas

    A state audit finds charter school spending violated state law, but the state Education Department says it has no responsibility for ensuring proper management of charter schools. Say what?
    • Mar 5, 2016
  • Hospitality, restaurant groups oppose bathroom bill

    Add the restaurant and hospitality association to those opposed to Sen. Linda Collins-Smith's bill to keep transgender people out of public restrooms that match their gender identity.
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Policy group urges opposition to new charter seats in Little Rock

    The Arkansas Public Policy Panel is urging supporters of the Little Rock School District to tell state Board of Education members they oppose applications to be heard this week to dramatically expand the number of charter school seats in the Little Rock School District.
    • Mar 9, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation