Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Battle over Protection for Transgender Status Expands into Healthcare Arena

The issue of whether transgender employees, whether they are employed in the public or private sectors, are protected from discrimination based on sex is playing out in courts across the country.  The battlefront expanded again this week when a transgender employee at a Cincinnati public library sued her employer and its healthcare provider, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, alleging that the denial of insurance coverage for her sex reassignment surgery is a violation of both Title VII and the Affordable Care Act.  See Dovel v. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and Community Insurance Co., Case No. 16-cv-00955, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.  This lawsuit follows on the heels of a similar suit filed in June 2016 by the American Civil Liberties Union against Dignity Health. 
 
In August 2016, the United States Supreme Court granted an emergency order to block a transgender male student in Virginia from using the boys' restroom until the Court can consider the matter when it reconvenes.  It remains unclear whether the Court, absent one Justice, will decide the substantive issue underlying all of disputes, which is whether discrimination based on gender identity is sex discrimination under Title VII and Title IX.