A year after earning the Human Rights Campaign’s coveted perfect score for LGBTI equality, Walmart lost it.
HRC releases their Corporate Equality Index annually. It scores various businesses and companies based on their discrimination policies and more.
Walmart received their first ever perfect 100 score last year.
However, due to two federal investigations by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding transgender discrimination, HRC suspended their score. This is only the second time they’ve done this in the report’s 16-year history.
In their report, they ‘pointed to significant enforcement gaps in Walmart’s non-discrimination policy, specifically with regards to sex and gender identity’.
HRC decidedly stated: ‘Pending remedial steps by the company, the CEI rating is suspended.’
The case of Jessica Shyne Robison
One of the cases involves a Walmart in North Carolina.
Another details the discrimination against Jessica Shyne Robison at a Sam’s Club (a subsidiary of Walmart) in Florida.
A supervisor began harassing and intimidating Robison when she began her gender transition in 2014. The company then disciplined and demoted her after she filed a complaint.
‘Walmart has previously received high marks on the CEI, but recent determinations by the EEOC about discrimination are cause for concern,’ said Deena Fidas, director of the HRC’s workplace equality program.
‘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.’
In more positive news, of the 947 companies evaluated in this year’s report, 609 received scores of 100.
The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund brought forward the cases against Walmart.
‘We hope this will encourage companies to examine the enforcement mechanisms for their good corporate policies,’ said TLDEF Executive Director Jillian Weiss.
‘Human Resources managers must be trained in proper investigation techniques, and understand how to be objective in determining when harassment and discrimination has occurred. Too often, corporate HR employees give their employer too much leeway, leaving transgender employees to suffer further harassment, discrimination and retaliation.’
She finished: ‘We hope this will deliver the message to Walmart and others that good corporate policy is not enough. It must be accompanied by strong enforcement mechanisms, or it is mere window dressing.’
‘Disappointed’ in statement
Walmart released a statement about their suspension.
‘We are proud of our work on LGBTQ-inclusive and nondiscriminatory policies. 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.’