BOSTON — A federal judge approved a $7.5 million settlement Monday in a class-action lawsuit against Walmart that found the retail giant violated gender-discrimination laws for years when it denied spousal benefits to same-sex couples, the Boston Globe reports.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a New Bedford woman by the advocacy group GLAD. The settlement was based in large part on U.S. Supreme Court rulings affirming the rights of same-sex couples to marry and, in an earlier ruling, their entitlement to federal spousal benefits, the Globe reports.
The lead plaintiff was Jacqueline Cote, who worked at Walmart for 15 years, though more than 300 plaintiffs joined the class-action lawsuit.
After attorneys fees are paid, the plaintiffs will split the roughly $5.5 million balance from the settlement, which U.S. District Judge William G. Young called fair and reasonable, according to the Boston Globe.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had agreed in 2014 to provide spousal benefits for same-sex partners, and roughly 1,200 employees signed up for the benefits at the time. That decision came after the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states where it was allowed, the Globe reports.
But for three years before 2014, the company refused to pay spousal benefits to employees in same-sex marriages, according to the settlement.