retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Chicago Sun Times reports that Walmart is being sued "in a class-action litigation effort that could create new LGBT workplace protections with the legal precedent it sets."

The suit is being filed on behalf of 1,200 current and former employees who "have had their same-sex spouses insurance coverage denied, which was company policy until 2014." The issue is whether discrimination against same-sex couples is the same as gender-based discrimination, which is against the law.

According to the story, "The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission thinks so. While the federal agency neither writes nor rules on law, it has argued that sexual orientation and gender identity are included as forms of sex discrimination under Title VII.

"The Obama administration would agree as well. The Justice Department has even opened itself up to a federal lawsuit by agreeing that Title VII can and should encompass LGBT protections."

There seem to be two possibilities here. One is that Walmart settles the suit to avoid a drawn-out legal battle that will generate negative headlines. The other is that the case works its way through the legal system and eventually ends up in the Supreme Court.


Reuters reports that Walmart could shut down its operations in Brazil and other Latin American markets where business is not what it once was.

"Brazil, a once-red-hot destination for foreign retailers and other companies ... has turned stone cold. And the lackluster performance in Latin America's largest economy shows how tactics that helped Wal-Mart build success in the U.S. sometimes get badly lost in translation overseas ... Brazil in particular has been dogged by poor locations, inefficient operations, labor troubles and uncompetitive prices -- with some of the problems baked in during an aggressive, decade-long growth surge, according to interviews with a dozen former and current Wal-Mart executives, as well as analysts, shoppers and store employees."

However, senior executives in the past have said the company has no plans of packing up and going home.

You can read more about Walmart's Brazilian issues here.
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