Publix, Where Being Gay Is No Pleasure

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Written By: Michael E. Miller

Publix might be great for deli sandwiches, but it's bad for gay employees, according to the Human Rights Campaign and several local LGBT activists. Publix does not provide benefits to domestic partners, they point out. Nor does it have nondiscrimination policies in place to protect LGBT employees.

"I think it's still 1965 in their eyes," says David Cary Hart, a retired CEO of Drake Business School and an LGBT activist. "They have absolutely no sensitivity to this issue whatsoever."

Hart points to Publix's zero rating on the HRC's Corporate Equality Index to back up his claim that the supermarket chain — Florida's second largest private employer, with 160,000 on the payroll — is behind the times. When he complained, Publix emailed him: "We are inundated with survey requests... and actually participate in very few due to the volume."

"Publix does not participate in surveys, and we have no knowledge that our score of zero in the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index survey would be for any other reason than for lack of participation," spokeswoman Nicole Krauss tells New Times. "In the five states in which we currently operate, same-sex marriage is not recognized as a legal union. Publix is recognized as a great place to work and [an] employer of choice based on the many benefits we offer our associate owners. We follow all laws in the cities and states in which we operate."

But Hart says that's BS. He points out that almost every other company on the Fortune 1000 participates in the survey. Walmart, for instance, jumped from a score of 40 in 2011 to a current score of 80 (out of 100) by extending benefits to domestic partners and adopting policies to protect gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. "The excuse that Publix gets all these surveys and can't do them all, that's just nonsense," Hart says.

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