A same-sex couple filed a discrimination case with Walmart last week, after the retailer reportedly denied spousal health benefits for the couple. Walmart employee Jacqueline Cote filed multiple times for benefits for her wife, Diana Smithson, who is currently battling ovarian cancer and previously survived breast cancer, according to Gay And Lesbian Advocates And Defenders, which is representing Cote in the case filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Cote attempted to file for spousal coverage for Smithson annually from 2006 through 2012 during open enrollment periods. Each time Cote would enter that her spouse was female into Walmart's online system, she would be stopped from continuing further. When she would attempt to call corporate headquarters, she was told the company did not provide health insurance coverage to same-sex couples.
Cote and Smithson have been together for nearly 23 years and married since May 2004 in Massachusetts, where they live and work.
"I felt like a second class employee," Cote said in a statement from GLAD. "I had to keep trying. I wouldn't give up."
Walmart is the world's largest public corporation, and with more than 2 million employees globally, is the largest private employer in the United States. Earlier this year, Walmart changed its policy to accommodate full-time employees in any state, with a spouse or domestic partner.