Wal-Mart: Same-Sex And Domestic Partners Added To Healthcare

Jennifer Deutschmann

Wal-Mart is adding same-sex and domestic partners to healthcare and other benefits. Monday's announcement is being called a "historic move" by civil rights groups.

Wal-Mart employees were notified via postcard. The cards outlined several changes to the existing benefit and healthcare plan.

As reported by USA Today, Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the US. Chad Griffin with the Human Rights Campaign applauds the benefit changes:

"I am moved... [Wal-Mart] has sent a cultural signal that equality for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people is the simplest of mainstream values, and we look forward to continuing to work with them."

As reported by Yahoo News, the new benefit plan will also include a vision care plan. Eligible employees will receive discounts on eye wear and eye exams.

Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove explains that the Supreme Court's decision about same-sex marriage prompted the change. The changes were made to provide a uniform policy to all employees.

Hargrove points out that many "states have different definitions." Wal-Mart has created their "own definition that will apply to [Wal-Mart] associates" nationwide.

Wal-Mart's same-sex and domestic partner benefits will begin In January 2014. Open enrollment will be available from October 12 through November 1.

Former employee Lucas Hardy was shocked by the decision. However, he is unsure how many employees will benefit from the changes.

Hardy explains that the healthcare package is simply too expensive for many Wal-Mart employees. He says that employees often struggle to complete the hours required to be eligible. Hardy also criticizes the high deductibles.

Hardy claims he was terminated for publicly criticizing Wal-Mart's labor practices. Representatives with Wal-Mart contend that he was fired for violating company policy on multiple occasions.

Wal-Mart's same-sex and domestic partner benefits will help many families struggling with healthcare costs. However, they are already facing criticism for the decision.

[Image via Wikimedia]