One Of The Country’s Largest Employers Just Made A Historic Announcement (DETAILS)

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Forbes has reported that Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery store chain, will offer its transgender employees full benefits, including surgery and drug therapy for gender reassignment, as part of the company’s health plan.

Such news would be welcome regardless of the company’s size, but Kroger is one of the largest companies in the country. The Cincinnati-based firm currently employs more than 400,000 people and is the country’s fifth-largest employer.

This decision makes Kroger the largest grocery store to offer such extensive benefits to transgender employees. Kroger, which is currently worth $37 billion dollars, is just the latest company offer these benefits. Others include Apple, Gap, and General Motors.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Kroger will offer up to $100,000 in benefits to their transgender employees and their dependents.

‘Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, medical procedures including surgery and drug therapy for gender reassignment will be covered up to a $100,000 lifetime maximum for eligible associates and their dependents.’

Forbes also reported that Kroger came to the decision after a long discussion with their internal LGBT organization, Alliance of Kroger.

‘We are excited to announce that The Kroger Co. has added transgender health benefits for eligible employees enrolled in an Anthem BCBS administered plan offered under the company-sponsored health insurance plan.

For the last several years, the company’s GLBT associate resource group, The Alliance of Kroger (AOK), has made a dedicated effort to work with executive leaders and the Total Rewards leadership team to secure these benefits for our associates.

Beginning January 1, 2016, medical procedures including surgery and drug therapy for gender reassignment will be covered up to a $100,000 lifetime maximum for eligible associates and their dependents.’

While this is undoubtedly good news for Kroger’s transgender community, it’s important to keep in mind that there is still a lot of work to be done. There is currently no national law protecting transgender individuals and several large companies do not offer any benefits or protections to their transgender employees.

Wal-Mart, which employes nearly 1.5 million people and is the country’s largest private employer, does not offer any such benefits to it’s transgender employees. Neither does McDonandls or Yum! Brands. Yum! is one of the nations largest fast food chains and owns KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. Together, these two fast food companies employ nearly 1 million people.

Regardless, Kroger’s decision could be a signal that the tide is turning when it comes to protections for transgender employees. Perhaps we will see Wal-Mart and other companies move towards a more inclusive workplace.

While this is certainly good news, it does highlight a major problem in regards to LGBT issues. The lack of a federal law leaves many gay and transgender workers at the mercy of the their employers. As of 2015, 3 million gay and transgender people lived in states that offer no protections.

Unforuantely, it’s unlikely we’ll see any such law passed until at least 2018. The Republican-controlled Congress is likely to quash any bills presented on this issue. Even if the Democrats regain Congress in the midterms, it’s unlikely that President Trump would sign any bills advancing LGBT rights. He claims to support LGBT rights, but, with Trump, it’s almost impossible to make any predictions.

Featured image via Flickr by Mike Kalasnik, available under a Creative Commons license.