Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) has filed a charge of discrimination on behalf of Jacqueline Cote [right], a Walmart employee in Swansea, Massachusetts who was denied spousal health insurance for her wife, reports The Rainbow Times.
Cote’s wife, Diana Smithson is currently battling ovarian cancer.
According to GLAD, Walmart’s refusal of health insurance for Smithson violates both state and federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in employment.
Between 2006 and 2012, Cote attempted to add Smithson to her insurance. However, when she entered her spouse’s gender as “female,” Walmart’s online system would stop her from proceeding further. When she called the retailer’s home office to investigate further, she was told that Walmart did not offer health insurance coverage to same-sex spouses.
By the time Walmart announced that it would change its policy in 2013, Cote and Smithson had racked up medical bills of more than $100,000.
Janson Wu, senior staff attorney at GLAD, said “all that Jackie wanted was to be treated like all other Walmart employees and to take care of her spouse. Instead, Walmart chose to discriminate against its gay and lesbian employees.”