Publix, one of the South's largest supermarket chains and Florida's second-largest private employer, has a long, uncomfortable history with its LGBT workers. Just last week, an article exposed the company's policy of denying employee coverage for medication used in PrEP, a strategy in which HIV-negative people take a daily pill that's nearly 100 percent effective in preventing transmission of the virus..
The PrEP dust-up wasn't the Lakeland, Fla.-based company's first dust-up with equality advocates. As reported by the Miami New Times, Publix board members donate to conservative candidates, and the founder's daughter unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida.
But questionable decisions by company officals are common.
A former cake decorator for Publix was awarded $100,000 in 2012 by the Broward County Human Rights Board after he was fired, allegedly for being gay. When the New Times reported on the story, the newspaper was bombarded with similar stories of antigay discrimination by Publix managers. One man claimed the store refused to provide him with bereavement pay in 2013, after his partner of 33 years died.
Similarily, a former manager says his HIV diagnosis was exposed by a pharmacy employee, who informed his coworkers. The manager was demoted and then fired; he filed a lawsuit against Publix last year.
The chain also has a zero on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index because the Publix refuses to fill out a questionnaire from the LGBT rights organization. While larger companies like Walmart find time to fill out the survey, Publix officials say they're too busy,