Wal-Mart settled the first successful LGBTQ lawsuit ever this past week when it agreed to shell out $7.5 million to lesbian and gay employees whose same-sex spouses were denied benefits between 2011 and 2013, when the retail giant changed its policy.
“This class action settlement breaks new ground,” the attorneys for the plaintiffs said in court documents. “This is the first class action brought on behalf of LGBTQ workers to be certified and settled, and hopefully the settlement of this action will inspire other LGBTQ workers to employ the class action device to secure equal rights in the future.”
Though the Department of Labor (DOL) in 2013 issued guidance saying same-sex spouses are protected under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), some employers have yet to adopt that guidance.
A federal judge in Boston on May 15 approved the settlement in the case of Cole v. Wal-Mart Stores.