Publix Super Markets began extending health benefits to same-sex couples on Jan. 1, even in operating areas that ban gay marriage.
“As long as they’re married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage and they have a valid marriage certificate, they can live in a state that doesn’t recognize it since it’s part of our six-state operating area,” Maria Brous, spokeswoman for the Lakeland, Fla.-based chain with stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, told SN.
Employees must also work at least 1,500 hours a year to qualify, according to reports.
While Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee ban same-sex marriage, North Carolina and South Carolina began recognizing it late in 2014, and starting Tuesday, same-sex couples will be free to marry in Florida.
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“With two of our states (N.C. and S.C) already recognizing same-sex marriage and Florida discussing doing so, it was only right to offer benefits to all of our associates, regardless of their state,” Brous said.
Brous is unsure about how many additional associates will qualify for benefits under the rule, since Publix doesn’t track the sexual orientation of employees, but shared that feedback from associates has been "very positive."
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