Walmart has passed provisions in its employee non-discrimination policy to protect transgender employees reports the Windy City Times.
Phillip Keene, a company spokeperson, told the publication that the changes went into effect "several weeks ago" and will safeguard workers from discrimination and harassment based on both gender identity and gender expression.
Though Keene was quoted as saying, "We've had a strong anti-discrimination policy for a long time," the company has a history of butting heads with LGBT workers and equality organizations. In 2010 an employee claimed he was stripped of many of his responsibilities and forced to wear a yellow vest while in the store after he admitted he was gay to a supervisor.
In January of this year the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City joined other anti-Walmart groups intent on keeping the big box retailer out of New York City. Specifically citing homophobia as its motivation, the group released a statement saying:
"Wal-Mart represents a culture of intolerance and insensitivity towards LGBT employees and issues that is unwelcome in New York. Just last year more than 100 Wal-Mart stores were found to be promoting a children’s book that suggested that gay people can overcome 'sin' and convert to heterosexuality with the help of counseling. Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke signed a petition in his home state of Arkansas that was aimed at preventing adoption by Gay and Lesbian parents."
They also noted that Walmart received a 40 on the 2011 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, which grades companies on LGBT issues (in comparison, AT&T, Ford, and Procter & Gamble received perfect scores of 100). WalmartWatch.org reported that the company received a 15 point deduction for "a large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish on their recent records, specifically by opposing a shareholder resolution to amend their non-discrimination policies to include gender identity."