Gay Groups Not Happy About Home Depot’s Pet Insurance

Sep 02, 2004

By George Anderson

Home Depot is taking heat for doing something nice for its employees’ pets.

Understanding that most Americans view their dogs and cats as members of the family, the do-it-yourself retailer began offering pet health insurance as an employee benefit in

Kim Mills, education director of Human Rights Campaign, a Washington gay rights group, doesn’t argue pet insurance is a nice benefit but believes the company would do better
to cover domestic partners under its employee health plan.

“It’s nice that they want to offer pet insurance, but put your people first. There’s a basic disconnect when a company will insure an employee’s pet but not their partners.”

Home Depot is in the mainstream of companies when it comes to not extending an employee’s benefits to a domestic partner.

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report, “In a 2004 survey of 459 companies, the Society for Human Resource Management reported that 34 percent offer same-sex
benefits; 27 percent of respondents offered opposite-sex domestic partnership benefits.”

Home Depot’s corporate policy protects against discrimination based on sexual preference but it does not extend coverage to same-sex partners of employees. The company does extend
some, but not all, of its benefits to opposite-sex partners.

“We are currently reviewing other welfare-related benefits for an extended definition of dependents,” the company said in a statement. “The option of offering pet insurance was
part of several enhancements of the overall benefits package, with no incremental cost to the company.”

Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to this story and the need (or not) for companies to extend employee benefits
to same- or opposite-sex domestic partners?

George Anderson – Moderator

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