Photographer: Luke Sharett/Bloomberg

Wal-Mart’s Perfect LGBT Equality Score Suspended After Employee Complaints

  • Civil rights group points to transgender workers’ accusations
  • Wal-Mart says it will work to reverse the group’s decision

The Human Rights Campaign has taken the rare step of suspending Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s perfect score for LGBT corporate equality after two federal complaints alleged the world’s largest retailer hadn’t protected transgender employees from discrimination.

Wal-Mart received its first-ever perfect score last year after it agreed to add new policies favorable to transgender workers. The suspension of the rating was disclosed today as part of the advocacy group’s annual Corporate Equality Index report. The suspension is only the second in the 16-year history of the report.

Two investigations by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “pointed to significant enforcement gaps in Wal-Mart’s non-discrimination policy, specifically with regards to sex and gender identity,” according to the Human Rights Campaign report. “Pending remedial steps by the company, the CEI rating is suspended.”

A record number of companies received a perfect score this year in the highly-touted annual measure of LGBT-friendly workplaces as more companies use diversity as a recruiting tool. This year, 609 companies out of 947 evaluated received the 100 score.

"We are proud of our work on LGBTQ-inclusive and nondiscriminatory policies," Wal-Mart said in an emailed statement. "We’re disappointed with the HRC’s decision to temporarily suspend our score, which was going to be rated at 100 percent for the second year in a row. While we respect the HRC’s work, we are confident in Walmart’s leading practices that support our LGBTQ communities and look forward to further educating them on our policies."

Two States

The EEOC complaints involved one case for a transgender worker in Florida and another in North Carolina, according to the citations in the report that matched letters posted on the Website for the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. Wal-Mart had no comment on the EEOC cases.

“Walmart has previously received high marks on the CEI, but recent determinations by the EEOC about discrimination are cause for concern,“ Deena Fidas, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s workplace equality program, said in an emailed statement. “The CEI is not just focused on policy, but on the daily workplace experience of LGBTQ employees. We have suspended Walmart’s score at this time as they address these concerns.“

— With assistance by Josh Eidelson

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.