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WalMart "civil rights" policies out pace the federal government’s

29 Aug

Walmart to offer domestic partner benefits

    Walmart, gay news, Washington Blade
Walmart will begin to offer domestic partnership benefits to employees (Photo by Bobby P.; courtesy Wikimedia Commons).
The nation’s largest retailer will begin to offer domestic partner benefits to its employees in same-sex relationships, although LGBT advocates are calling on the company to go further.
Walmart — which, with more than two million workers, is the biggest private employer in the world — announced that it would begin to offer these benefits along with other changes on Monday in a postcard that was sent to workers obtained by the Washington Blade and other media outlets.
Under the heading “Enrolling domestic partners,” the postcard states, “Beginning in 2014, if you’re a full-time associate you can cover your spouse/domestic partner in the medical, dental, vision, life, critical illness or accident plans.”
Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesperson, said the “full suite” of benefits will be available starting Jan. 1 to employees who have domestic partners.
“The benefits that we will be offering will be available to an associate’s same or opposite-sex spouse, or an unmarried partner, whether it’s the same or opposite-sex,” Hargrove said.
The company, Hargrove said, defines domestic partnership as someone living in a relationship similar to marriage. The parties in the relationship must be living together for at least 12 months and intend to continue sharing a household indefinitely.
But Hargrove said the company isn’t looking for proof from employees that they have met requirements and is working off an honor system.
“Walmart’s beliefs are built on a foundation of integrity, and so no proof will be required to enroll a spouse or partner, just as no proof is not required today to enroll a spouse,” Hargrove said.
Hargrove said the company isn’t taking a position on same-sex marriage, but is adopting the new policy as different states enact different laws on marriage equality.
“We haven’t taken a view on that, but what we’ve done is we’ve developed a single definition for all our associates that can provide consistency across all of our markets because different states are developing different definitions of marriage and domestic partnerships, civil unions,” Hargrove said. “By adopting a single definition, we’ll offer clarity and consistency for our associates.”
While Hargrove said the company has provided benefits to employees in opposite-sex marriages, he said the company hasn’t recognized same-sex marriages and those couples will have to go through the domestic partnership system to receive benefits.
Hargrove said the policy change came about after discussions within the company, but not the result of any kind of board vote.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement provided to the Washington Blade that as a teenager he worked at his local Walmart in Arkansas — the home state of the company’s corporate headquarters.
“Now, as president of the Human Rights Campaign, I am moved by my former employer’s historic action that further proves equality is good business,” Griffin said. “Having worked for years to improve their HRC Corporate Equality Index score, Walmart, as America’s largest employer, has sent a cultural signal that equality for LGBT people is the simplest of mainstream values and we look forward to continuing to work with them.”
According to HRC’s 2013 Corporate Equality Index, Walmart previously offered an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy, but in addition to lacking partner benefits also didn’t provide transgender-inclusive health insurance or LGBT competency training or resources.
Michael Cole-Schwartz, an HRC spokesperson, said the institution of domestic partner benefits will change Walmart’s score on the Human Rights Campaign’s CEI score, but HRC is still assessing what that will mean in terms of points.
“They are likely not at 100 percent so after we figure their final score there will definitely be more for them to do,” Cole-Schwartz said. “Walmart has been on a slow but steady progression of LGBT inclusion and we expect that will continue.”
News that Walmart will begin to offer domestic partner benefits comes amid controversy after the company announced it has halted plans to build stores in D.C. after the District passed a law requiring large retailers to pay at least $12 an hour to employees.
Darren Phelps, executive director of the LGBT labor group Pride at Work, said he welcomes the change to offer domestic partner benefits to employees, but wants to see more from the company in terms of wages for employees.
“Our issue with Walmart first of all is workplace safety,” Phelps said. “While they are extending domestic partnership to same-gender loving people in our community, our workers should receive their living wages. We have great issues around that. While they have an extended an olive branch, Walmart needs to step up and do what is right to make sure that all workers are receiving liveable, fair wages.”

Notes on a research project on the failed statist model of "civil rights"

25 Jun
(This post is a stub until I remove this prefatory parenthetical remark — i.e. I am coming back and fleshing it out later.  My time is being sapped by pointless property viewings caused by the civil rights laws.)

Grad students, policy analysts, and academics should do more studies on the cost of our failed civil rights paradigm and the emergent order, individualist alternatives it displaced and eliminated.

Here is what “civil rights” meant to me this month:   under DC fair housing law there are 26 protected classes, not just age, race and sex, national origin, religion and such, but source of income, sexual orientation, appearance, political affiliation and matriculation (whether and where you are in school). So having successfully rented one house to a group of American University students I am showing other groups of students as well. No one can say they won’t accept students, even if asked up front – that would be illegal. (They do now sometimes say they won’t accept co-signers (parents) or out of boundary co-signers.)  So I take them all out in 95 degrees, use up hours of my time, make them fill out elaborate applications, in one case have them fork over a $40 credit check application fee for each prospective tenant, and then they rent to someone else or even just decline to tent to 3 or 4 unrelated grad students. So the “progressive” statist model of civil rights is really working.  How many underclass urchins could I have tutored with the time the civil rights laws make me waste?  How much more money could I have made so that the allegedly minority benefiting welfare state could have been better funded by the taxes it steals?

One can easily multiply avenues of research along these lines:  how many people of color (or other protected classes) are never hired and never given a chance or a start, who would have been, because under our current civil rights regime they are too costly as employees in that they cannot be fired, demoted, reprimanded or even not promoted, because of the risk of law suits, etc.