A transgender man who is trying to obtain sex reassignment surgery is suing his employer, Dignity Health, for failing to provide insurance coverage for the surgery. The man alleges that Dignity Health discriminated against him for being transgender, as well as violated the Affordable Care Act, when it deprived him of medical care.
Dignity Health, which is based in San Francisco, is the U.S.’s fifth largest health system and refuses to cover sex reassignment surgeries, according to the complaint. The ACLU filed a complaint on behalf of the transgender man in federal court in San Francisco.
The plaintiff, who is a nurse at a Dignity hospital in Arizona, was born female but identifies as male. He alleges in his complaint that Dignity Health singles out transgender employees for unequal treatment by refusing to deprive them of all medical care for gender dysphoria, a serious medical condition. Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.
According to the plaintiff, his health care coverage provided by his employer includes treatment of gender dysphoria, but his employer excluded the treatment from its employee health care coverage plan, meaning the plaintiff had to pay thousands of dollars for his treatment. In 2015, he paid over $7,000 for a double mastectomy that was excluded from his insurance plan. The plaintiff has also had to forego some medically necessary care. He next wishes to have a phalloplasty, plastic surgery performed to construct a penis, but cannot afford to pay for the procedure out of pocket.
The man’s fiancé, who also works for Dignity, emailed the CEO asking for the exclusion to be removed from the health care plan. The CEO responded that they found no evidence of any discrimination in the company’s insurance plan.
This is not the first time the ACLU has filed a complaint against Dignity Health. The ACLU also filed a complaint against the organization in December 2015, claiming that it denies patients basic reproductive care, by refusing to provide coverage for abortions.
Under federal law, employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of gender. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interprets this law as forbidding any employment discrimination based on gender identity. Therefore, under federal law, employers cannot refuse to hire a job applicant because he or she is transgender. Employees cannot be fired because they have made or are planning to make a gender transition. Employers also cannot discriminate in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, such as health insurance, because of gender identity. In addition, California law specifically provides that employers cannot discriminate on the basis of gender identity.
If you believe you have been the victim of illegal discrimination in the workplace because you are transgender, you should consult with an attorney. You have legal rights under both federal and state law, and it’s important you have an advocate on your side who can protect those legal rights. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty and Seth I. Rosenberg believe that no employee should be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity.
Call the San Francisco employment discrimination attorneys at Liberty Law at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000 to learn more about your legal rights. We can help. You may be entitled to compensation for your lost wages, unpaid benefits, emotional damages and more. We work with clients throughout the Oakland-San Francisco area, including Hayward, Fairfield, Tracy, San Jose, Sacramento, Berkeley, and the surrounding areas. Call us today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation on your case. If we choose to accept your case, you pay us nothing in legal fees until we obtain compensation for you.