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Jury sides with transgender workers in reassignment benefits bias suit

Jury sides with transgender workers in reassignment benefits bias suit

A federal jury Thursday awarded two workers, a University of Wisconsin-Madison employee and a teaching assistant, $780,500 in damages for the state’s refusal to pay for costs associated with gender reassignment surgery and sex hormones based on an exclusion in Wisconsin’s state employee coverage.

The jury verdict by the U.S. District Court in Madison, Wisconsin, follows a Sept. 18 ruling by the U.S. District Court in Madison in Alina Boyden and Shannon Andrews v. Robert J. Conlin et al., in which the court held that the state’s exclusion for coverage violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Affordable Care Act.

Ms. Boyden has been employed by the University of Wisconsin since April 2013, working as either a teaching assistant or a graduate fellow, according to the ruling.

Ms. Andrews works at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health as a researcher in its Carbone Cancer Center. Both are transgender women who are state employees eligible for state-provided health insurance, according to the ruling.

The women, who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit based on an exclusion by the state of Wisconsin for “(p)rocedures, services and supplies related to surgery and sex hormones associated with general reassignment,” according to the ruling.

In granting the plaintiffs partial summary judgment, U.S. District Judge William M. Conley said: “Whether because of differential treatment based on natal sex, or because of a form of sex stereotyping where an individual is required effectively to maintain his or her natal sex characteristics, the Exclusion on its face treats transgender individuals differently on the basis of sex, thus triggering the protection of Title VII and the ACA’s anti-discrimination provision.”

In its subsequent verdict Thursday, the jury awarded Ms. Boyden $301,000 and Ms. Andrews $479,500.

More courts are ruling transgender employees are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws. 


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