Female Associates May Sue Wal-Mart Over Birth Control Policy
Female employees of Wal-Mart denied health insurance coverage for birth control can sue the company as part of a class-action suit after a ruling last Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Julie Carnes. The judge’s ruling applies to women that worked for Wal-Mart after March 2001.
The class action status arises from a suit filed last October by Lisa Smith Mauldin, a Wal-Mart associate in a Division One store in Hiram, Georgia. The suit brought by Ms. Smith Mauldin asked the court to declare Wal-Mart’s health plan illegal. It further asked that the retailer reimburse Ms. Smith Mauldin and other employees for uninsured prescription contraceptives.
Associated Press reports that Ms. Smith
Mauldin’s lawyer, George Stein, called Judge Carnes’ decision “a major victory
for the working women of America.” Mr. Stein estimates that Wal-Mart saves approximately
$60 million a year by denying birth control coverage to its female employees.
Moderator’s Comment: Should payment for prescribed
contraceptives be required of a company’s prescription drug program?
Judge Carnes’ decision to grant class-action status does
not guarantee that a large judgement/settlement is on the way. The judge still
needs to decide if the case has merit and if it should also include women covered
under a male Wal-Mart employee’s plan.[George
Anderson – Moderator]