Five Stories of Publix Mistreating LGBTQ Workers

Publix remains one of the most popular and beloved retail chains in the entire South, despite the fact that the Fortune 100 corporation has been repeatedly accused of mistreating its LGBTQ workers. The chain has been fighting anti-gay accusations for years — but instead of working to rid itself of bad PR, the chain keeps finding new ways to upset the community.

This might be due to the fact that the corporation’s politics lean to the right in general — its board members donate money to conservatives, the daughter of the company’s founder spent a bunch of money trying to keep medical marijuana illegal in Florida, and the chain refuses to sign a pact that would help protect its farmworkers from at-work sexual abuse.

But yet another anti-gay scandal bubbled up this week after workers accused the chain of refusing to provide preventative HIV medicine to gay men. Rather than finally offer some sort of mea culpa, the chain appears to be doubling down on its stance, so here’s a full history of Publix’s longstanding issues with the gay community:

Publix has now confirmed that it won’t cover preventative HIV medications that help gay men, in particular, avoid contracting the virus

HIV-positive activist Josh Robbins first warned in November 2016 that Publix, Florida’s beloved supermarket giant, was refusing to provide its workers with drugs that prevent HIV transmission. Nearly a year and a half later, the grocery chain has still not answered why it has adopted this health-care policy. The Lakeland-based company danced around the question again this week when HIV-focused website TheBody.com asked for an explanation.

In light of the conservative leanings of the company’s founding family and its board, some critics are asking whether Publix has any business reason for denying “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” or PrEP, drugs (known by the brand name Truvada) to its workers or if the company simply objects to the fact that the drugs are recommended for use by gay men, who are at higher risk for HIV transmission.

According to both Robers and TheBody.com, Publix employees who have asked the chain to cover the medications — which prevent HIV transmission — have routinely been denied. Robbins published denial letters from Publix human resources, which said employees can receive HIV medications only after they’ve contracted the virus.

Publix has since tweeted that they still do not provide preventative PrEP drugs, and only cover the medication after someone has already contracted HIV: MiamiTight.com

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