Walmart Inks Deal To Settle Ex-Associate’s Gay Bias Case

Walmart agreed to a deal in Florida federal court to end a former employee’s suit alleging he was demeaned because he’s gay. He accused his manager of the time of calling his same-sex marriage “abominable” and claims he was fired for bringing attention to the harassment.

WalmartPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Jose Pagan, former sales floor associate in Polk County, Florida, jointly filed the notice with Walmart announcing that they had negotiated a settlement with a plan to finalize it within the next 30 days.

Less than two months ago, U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington rejected Walmart’s bid to dismiss Pagan’s suit, finding he distinctly stated his claims for discrimination and retaliation.

Pagan worked for the retail titan from 2018 to 2020, with his discrimination and retaliation case originating in January of this year. Walmart then removed the legal battle to federal court in May.

The manager allegedly made comments about Pagan dressing in a feminine manner and made clear she wanted him to dress in a more masculine fashion. According to the complaint, Pagan’s request for time off to get married was denied as well, with the manager commenting that “in the eyes of God, that is abominable.”

The former retail worker said that he began complaining about the discrimination and harassment in late 2019 but that no action was taken on the company’s part. He called the company’s ethics hot line several times, but never received the attention the matter deserved, he said.

According to the complaint, Pagan was swiftly fired after the manager found out about him voicing his frustration with her and the company.

Walmart denied the allegations and pressured the court to dismiss Pagan’s lawsuit in June, arguing the former employee had lodged a “shotgun” complaint with sporadic claims too vague to support his suit. It also stated the several internal discrimination reports he filed with management weren’t related to his claims of on-the-job mistreatment and eventual departure in March 2020.

Judge Covington disagreed in a July ruling. While she did concede Pagan’s complaint may have repeated some factual allegations, the judge stated he had clearly laid out his claims about the manager, her behavior, his complaints and his firing.

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