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Wendy's Adds Gays, Transgenders To Employment Policy

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Wendy's Adds Gays, Transgenders To Employment Policy

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

May 3, 2006 - 3:00 pm ET

(Washington) Fast food chain Wendy's International has agreed to amend its employment nondiscrimination policy by adding new written protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity for all employees.

The change came after lobbying by the LGBT civil rights group Equality Project and one of the company's biggest shareholders.

The New York City Employees Retirement Fund filed a shareholders resolution with the Securities and Exchange Commission calling for the policy change. After the company agreed to the changes the resolution was withdrawn without needing to go to stock holders at the next Annual Meeting.

“The good news from Wendy’s proves once again that building coalitions around the Equality Principles is a strategy that works for shareholders and policy advocates alike, and deserves support by more institutions,” said Grant Lukenbill, managing director of the Equality Project.

The Equality Principals are ten objectives of the Project that include anti-discrimination policies in the workplace and in advertising.

The New York City Employees Retirement Fund under NYC Comptroller, William B. Thompson has been a leading advocate of LGBT workplace rights.

Both groups are now turning their attention to ExxonMobil, the only major U.S. company that has ever rescinded a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation.

The provision had been available to workers at Mobil. But, in December 1999 Mobil merged with Exxon and under Exxon's direction the policy was abandoned. At the same time, it closed Mobil's domestic partner benefits program to any more employees.

The company also is the only Fortune 50 company not to include sexual orientation in its primary non-discrimination policy.

NYCERS currently holds 11.9 million shares worth approximately $446 million in the company.

For the sixth year in a row the pension fund and a group of other Exxon shareholders will present a non-discrimination motion at the company's annual meeting.

The resolution received the highest numbers of votes of all resolutions in 2005 – an impressive 29.4 percent representing 1.55 billion shares in favor of the policy.

New York's pension funds have a long history of activism on behalf of social causes, including gay rights. The funds were part of a decade-long battle to get CBRL Group Inc., the parent company of the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain, to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation. CBRL, which reportedly fired at least 11 gay workers in the 1990s, agreed to change its policy in November 2002 after a resolution garnered 58 percent of the vote.

It also backed a resolution that resulted in J.C. Penney Co. supporting LGBT non discrimination.

©365Gay.com 2006

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