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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 17, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 07
If you worked for Walmart and had a same-sex spouse between 2011 and 2013, read this
Section One
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If you worked for Walmart and had a same-sex spouse between 2011 and 2013, read this

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

If you worked for Walmart and had a same-sex spouse between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2013, an upcoming court settlement could affect your rights.

The resolution of Cote v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., a suit filed in 2014, calls for the retail giant Walmart to pay out $7.5 million to settle the claims of Jacqueline Cote - the named plaintiff in the case - and other Walmart employees who experienced the same kind of discrimination.

Walmart refused to cover Cote's spouse under her health insurance policy, even though the couple had been legally married in Massachusetts and opposite-sex spouses were covered without question.

Starting in 2006 and continuing through 2012, Cote tried to add her spouse, Diana Smithson, to her company-provided health care policy, but Walmart consistently turned her down. The company did not change its policy and provide coverage for same-sex spouses until 2014, but by then Cote and Smithson had racked up more than $150,000 in medical bills.

Smithson ultimately died of ovarian cancer in 2016.

Any employee of Walmart or Sam's Club who had a same-sex spouse between 2011 and 2013 is eligible to participate in the class-action settlement.

If you are eligible, refer to the website www.walmartsamesexspousebenefitssettlement.com or phone 1-877-241-7543.

To opt in to the settlement and receive payment, you must submit your claims no later than March 20. Forms to do so are available on the website. If you do this, you will also give up any rights to sue Walmart on your own.

If you want to opt in but you're not satisfied with the proposed settlement, you may also appear in court and object to the settlement. You can't do this and also opt out, however.

If you want to bring your own suit against Walmart, you must explicitly opt out of the suit and file your own claims. Attorneys working with Cote warn that statute of limitation concerns apply, so you should act promptly to file a claim.

If you do nothing, then you give up any rights to money under the settlement and also give up the right to sue Walmart on your own.

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