Publix Grocery Store Chain Scores A Zero on Corporate Equality Index

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Is Publix a great company or an out-of-date entity?

The Supermarket giant, headquartered in Lakeland, Fla., has come under fire for how it treats its LGBT employees.

“Publix claims to be a community focused company,” writes Sean Devany, in a letter to the editor of the South Florida Gay News. “Well, apparently not if you are gay!”

Devany wants Publix to incorporate a domestic partnership policy to prevent situations from happening to him and his longtime partner. The couple of 18 years, who reside in Fort Lauderdale, had planned to attended bereavement services for Devany’s father, who passed away after a bout with cancer. Publix, however, denied the request for time off.

Devany says the company is heartless.

“Do you think we would have had the same outcome if it were a straight couple of eighteen years?,” Devany asks. “I don’t think so!”

Publix insists it is merely following the law. In an email, Nicole Krauss, spokeswoman for Publix’s operations in Southeast Florida, wrote:

“In the five states in which we currently operate, same sex marriage is not recognized as a legal union. We follow all laws in the cities and states in which we operate, and are therefore in compliance with all municipal and county codes. In addition, Publix routinely reviews all policies and procedures. Publix is recognized as a great place to work and employer of choice based on the many benefits we offer our associate owners.”

Publix’s position does not come as any surprise to Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBT civil rights organization.

“They are not going to do anything that the law does not require,” said Smith. “It’s going to be up to Publix employees to change that dynamic from the inside.”

On a recent visit inside the Wilton Manors Publix, SFGN spoke with current LGBT employees about benefits offered by the company. Most refused to be identified for this article —out of fear over losing their job. One gay man, wearing the name tag “Jerry,” said the benefits he has with Publix are “very good” and, thankfully, his partner is offered benefits at his place of employment as well.

Such is little solace for Devany, who ultimately attended his father’s funeral in Massachusetts without the love and support of his longtime partner by his side.

“We can’t afford to lose an income,” Devany notes, adding there is “no doubt Publix would have fired him” for attending the funeral service.

Publix, which has locations in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee, was recently recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the 100 “Best Companies to Work for.”

However, Publix has recently come under fire after the Human Rights Campaign rated them a 0 (out of 100) on its Corporate Equality Index. Whereas other area grocery store chains did considerably better such as Target (100), Walmart (80), Whole Foods Market (75), and Winn-Dixie (45). Publix was rated 0 in 2013 as well. The other above mention stores all increased their scores over the previous year except for Target, which stayed at the top with 100.


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