NEW YORK (AP) - Walmart Stores Inc. will extend its health care benefits to all its U.S. workers' domestic partners starting Jan. 1.
The nation's largest private employer said the changes were made so it could have one uniform policy for all 50 states at a time when some states have their own definitions of what constitutes domestic partnerships and civil unions. The retailer has been a target of attacks by labor groups for what they criticize are skimpy wages and benefits.
Employees can enroll their domestic partners from Oct. 12 through Nov. 1.
Walmart defines domestic partners as spouses of the same-sex or opposite gender, and unmarried partners who are not legally separated who have lived together for at least 12 months, are not married to anyone else, are in an exclusive relationship and plan to continue sharing a household indefinitely.
The move was announced to Wal-Mart workers in postcards sent Monday, follows the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June to overturn a 1996 law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. The decision makes the federal government recognize same-sex marriages in states where they are legal.