Wal-Mart Settles Class Action That Alleged Denial of Same-Sex Spousal Benefits Violated Title VII

We previously discussed Cote v. Walmart Stores, a class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Massachusetts alleging that by denying same-sex spousal benefits to employees, Wal-Mart discriminated against the plaintiff, Jacqueline Cote, and other similarly situated gay and lesbian employees.

Ms. Cote was a Wal-Mart employee in Swansea, Massachusetts from 2006 through 2012. She was denied spousal benefits for her wife, who had cancer. The couple was forced to pay $150,000 in medical expenses out-of-pocket.

Last week, the parties settled the lawsuit, with Wal-Mart agreeing to pay $7.5 million to employees in the US and Puerto Rico who were denied health insurance for their same-sex spouses between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2013.

Wal-Mart modified its policy as of January 1, 2014, offering spousal health insurance coverage for same-sex spouses and domestic partners. Wal-Mart intends to keep this policy in place irrespective of the settlement.

Sadly, Ms. Cote’s wife, Dee, passed away earlier this year.

AiVi Nguyen practices as a trial lawyer and focuses on business litigation and employment litigation.

She represents a diverse range of clients in adversarial proceedings at the trial level in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut as well as the Massachusetts Appellate Courts and in various Federal District and Circuit Courts. She also represents clients before state regulatory and adjudicatory agencies.

AiVi is the Chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee. She is also a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee for the City of Worcester, a board member of the United Way of Central Massachusetts Board and a board member of Bottom Line’s Worcester Advisory Board.


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