O’Reilly refuses to provide records requested by the Attorney General
SEATTLE — The Washington State Attorney General’s Office today filed a petition in King County Superior Court to enforce a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) issued to O’Reilly Auto Parts.
After receiving a consumer complaint, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division is investigating O’Reilly to determine if the company is refusing to provide healthcare benefits to same-sex spouses of Washington state employees that it provides for opposite-sex spouses. As of today, O’Reilly has failed to provide a complete response to the CID and has refused to produce any documents related to its decision not to provide benefits.
O’Reilly, based out of Missouri, operates a chain of retail auto parts stores across the country. The company has approximately 147 stores and employs 2,194 people in Washington state.
“In Washington, you cannot deny healthcare benefits based on sexual orientation. Under Washington law, if a business provides benefits to opposite-sex spouses, it must provide them to same-sex spouses,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “I will stand up for the rights of all people in our state and pursue businesses that don’t play by the rules.”
The investigation seeks to determine whether O’Reilly violated the Washington State Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive business practices.
The CPA authorizes the AGO to serve CIDs to any person or business to obtain information the AGO believes is relevant to an investigation. The AGO can file a petition in court to enforce the CID if the recipient doesn’t produce all required information.
“The Attorney General’s Office provided O’Reilly ample time to respond to our request for information, but the company has made it clear it has no intention of fully complying with this request,” Ferguson said. “It is unfortunate we need to file this petition in court to obtain the information we need.”
After all requested information is received, the Attorney General will review the material and consider next steps, including the possibility of filing a lawsuit.
Assistant Attorney General Kim Gunning is lead on this investigation. A copy of the enforcement petition can be found here.
Background on anti-discrimination and same-sex marriage laws in Washington
Sexual orientation discrimination is unlawful in Washington. In addition to other protections, the Consumer Protection Act broadly prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in trade or commerce, including acts that would discriminate against consumers in a commercial setting.
In 2012, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 6239, legalizing same-sex marriage. Opponents garnered enough signatures to refer the measure to voters. Voters approved Referendum 74 by nearly 54 percent at the November election — making Washington one of the first three states to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage.