News (USA)

Trans man gets justice in workplace discrimination case after fighting for a decade

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that the federal Office of Personnel & Management (OPM) had discriminated against a transgender man who worked with the Federal Bureau of Prisons by denying him hormone replacement therapy. The ruling took over eight years.

Marc Lawrence had his first experience with discrimination in 2013 and filed a complaint with the EEOC over a decade ago in May 2014. 

Lawrence is currently a retiree, but he worked at the Federal Bureau of Prisons working for over almost 30 years. He received coverage through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan, and tried to get his insurance to cover three doctor’s visits and hormone replacement therapy.

His plan denied him this coverage, saying they exclude gender-affirming care entirely.

After taking two years to rule on the case, an administrative judge in 2016 ruled in favor of OPM. Lawrence appealed to the EEOC appealed, leading to an eight-year wait for a final decision.

Last week, a judgment was made on the appeal – ruling in Lawrence’s favor.

“It’s been a long journey, it’s a relief knowing that others won’t have to face the same blatant discrimination I first encountered in 2013. My case will serve as an affirmation of the rights that transgender individuals have under the law, and I’m deeply grateful for that,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence was represented by attorneys from Lambda Legal and Gilbert Employment Law, P.C.

“This is a huge win for transgender employees, confirming what a number of courts across the country have determined — that blanket exclusions for gender-affirming care target transgender people for discrimination and violate Title VII,” said Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Tara Borelli. 

“It took eight years, but at long last Marc Lawrence has gotten the justice and coverage he never should have been denied.”

Lawrence’s lawyers argued that this constituted discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans job discrimination because of sex. While his insurance plan removed the exclusion in 2016, he was still pursuing relief for the denial of care.

This care was granted to cisgender men who needed it and the gender-affirming care policy only applied to transgender people.

Shannon Leary, partner at Gilbert Employment Law, said, “The EEOC’s decision solidified a particularly salient protection under Title VII, as transgender individuals face a slew of discriminatory legislation across the country.”

“It’s clear that Marc Lawrence, like all transgender employees, deserves medical care just as much as his colleagues, and we hope that federal agencies, and all employers, take this as a sign of their obligation to treat transgender employees with fairness.”

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