Jessica Shyne Robison of Tampa, Florida successfully brought charges of "harassment and intimidation" against her employer, Sam's Club, to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Robison was a praised employee of the Wal-Mart Stores Inc.-owned company when she came out as transgender and announced her plans to transition. Although she initially received a warm reception, Robison alleged that she was "denied wages and promotion opportunities" and excluded from company healthcare after she came out.
EEOC verified Robison's claims, adding that Wal-Mart "[denied Robison] necessary medical care that would have been provided had she not been transgender," all in direct violation of her Title VII rights.
"The ruling sends a strong message," Jillian Weiss of the Transgender Legal Defense Fund told LGBTQ Nation. "No one should ever be targeted for discrimination on the basis of sex."
In a statement, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said the corporation has "attempted to resolve this issue" with Robison.
"[Wal-Mart] maintains a strong anti-discrimination policy," a rep from Wal-Mart said. "We support diversity and inclusion in our workforce and do not tolerate discrimination or retaliation of any kind. Our health benefits include coverage for the medically necessary treatment of Gender Dysphoria or Gender Identity Disorder. While we disagree with the EEOC’s findings, we have attempted to resolve this issue with Ms. Robison and remain open to further discussions."
The case comes months after a lawsuit brought against Wal-Mart by numerous LGBT employees, who claimed that the company refused to provide health insurance to the employees' spouses. The corporation settled the suit in December 2016.
Despite repeated allegations brought against the company, Wal-Mart Stores continues to rank high on HRC's Corporate Equality Index. In HRC'S 2017 report, the Fortune 1000 corporation received a perfect score for its "leading policies, benefits, and practices for the LGBT workforce and their families." It was named a 2017 Best Place to Work for LGBT employees in retail and merchandising.