Scroll To Top
Women

See's Candies not Sweet on Lesbian and Gay Employee Benefits

See's Candies not Sweet on Lesbian and Gay Employee Benefits

San Francisco's Union Square See’s Candies kiosk failed to give equal benefits for domestic partnerships as for spouses, which does not comply with the San Francisco Equal Rights Ordinance. See’s opted to not update it’s policy to give equal benefits to gay and lesbian couples, and thus vacated.

San Francisco's Union Square See’s Candies kiosk “was not providing all of the same benefits for domestic partners that it does for spouses,” according to the San Francisco Examiner. The California-based candy company also opted to not update its policy in compliance with the city's calls for lesbian and gay domestic partner benefits, and thus vacated.

See’s Candies, per its website “are well known and loved throughout the West where the company was founded in 1921. See’s is headquartered in South San Francisco, California.”

Jordan Krueger, of grassroots activist organization Equality Network, contacted See’s, using its Customer Service phone number from the listing on their website, and requested to speak with someone about the closing of the Union Square location. A representative named Jessica informed him of the press release they had prepared and offered to read it. Krueger also received an email of the statement, as follows: 

“See’s Candies was mentioned in an article in the San Francisco Examiner written by Katie Worth that was published on June 19, 2009. We first learned of the article on Monday June 22nd. The article is factually untrue and the inaccuracies are being addressed with the Examiner to solicit a retraction. For years See’s Candies has provided domestic partner benefits including health insurance, with some of these benefits negotiated in labor agreements with unions representing See’s workers. These benefits continue to be offered today to union and non-union employees of See’s. Recently, our Union Square location lease was taken over by the City of San Francisco who has additional requirements for benefits beyond those offered by See’s. As any change to the benefits offered would require opening all related union contracts for negotiation, and the added benefits required were relatively minor and not consistent with our overall benefit plan, See’s attempted to seek a compromise with the City on its required benefit package. Unable to agree, and not wishing to renegotiate the union benefits offered to a single store in San Francisco, we elected to not renew our Union Square lease when it expired. See’s was not 'evicted,' and we do offer health and welfare coverage for domestic partners on the same basis as for spouses. The allegations in the article were not discussed with See’s prior to the article being run.

We hope this story will soon be retracted. Thank you for your interest in See’s Candies.

Diane Ihrig ([email protected])?

See’s Candies?Consumer Affairs Department”

To learn the exact requirements from the city of San Francisco, Krueger called the city and found out the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement is the department handling the matter, and left a voicemail. He also called Donna Levitt, the department’s Division Manager, but has not heard back from either office.

Seth Fowlernoted on Twitter that See’s website does not mention anything about Sexual Orientation on their Careers page. See below:

“See’s Candies is dedicated to providing a positive work environment where each individual is challenged to achieve their best. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, we welcome applications from qualified candidates without regard to race, gender, ethnicity, disability, or religious preference.”

more on next page...

\\\

(continued)

Krueger contacted Diane for clarification, and read her the statement from the See’s Careers page. He asked if she could clarify what their commitment is as far as ensuring equal opportunity without regard for sexual orientation, when they’re offering Domestic Partner Benefits. She told me that she didn’t have an answer, and would have to pass this on.” Krueger explained. “She said Jessica had opened a comment file for me, and that those comments are read by people in upper management. She said they had my contact information and would contact me if anything came up.”

Seth Fowler also called See’s, and was unable to get any other information about which benefits did not comply with San Francisco’s Equal Rights Ordinance, which was developed by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the branch of the city in charge of reviewing contracts and implementation of the ordinance.

Larry Brinkin found the city’s records on See’s, and went through the notes compiled from their June review. There are two issues with the current policy, according to the notes.

One issue is that See’s told the SFHRC equal benefits are not provided by their Northern California corporate office. The other is that only partial documentation of benefits for their unionized workers was provided.

According to the notes, there are two standing issues with their current policy. The first is that the SFHRC was told by See’s that their northern California corporate office does not provide equal benefits. The second issue is that See’s only provided partial documentation of benefits for their unionized workers. There is no way of determining whether or not benefits are being provided equally without seeing the documents that detail how all their benefits are defined and distributed. Lacking supporting documents, See’s was not in compliance with the Equal Rights Ordinance and lost the lease for the Union Square store.

If their corporate office in Northern California is not providing equal benefits, it does not mean that no benefits are being provided. This does not let See’s off the hook, but it places the weight of having proof heavily on them. Which benefits are actually missing and why not provide those benefits?

On the See’s Candies In SF blog, Fowler notes,  “It also raises questions about their refusal to provide documentation. Are there onerous requirements to be considered a domestic partner with See’s? Are their definitions of domestic partnerships exclusive to same-sex couples and not all domestic partners? I don’t know. Perhaps it lies in their Equal Opportunity Employer hiring practices, which currently does not list sexual orientation.”

Now clarification is needed on equal benefits being provided in the corporate office: Are they? If not, why? When will they? See’s needs to answer why the SFHRC was not given full documentation. If they had provided all the required documentation, would it say they were in fact violating the Equal Rights Ordinance?

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

author avatar

Boo Jarchow