Iowa Supreme Court Upholds Gender Identity Discrimination Case

The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday upheld much of a 2019 jury verdict that found the state discriminated against a transgender state prison employee in denying him use of the men’s restrooms and locker rooms, but the court dismissed part of the case centering on gender discrimination. The ruling means Jesse Vroegh, a former nurse at the Mitchellville Women‘s Prison, won her trial on discrimination grounds based on gender identity and the jury’s verdict in damages of $120,000 for emotional distress. The decision in which the full court recognized discrimination based on gender identity for transgender workers under the state’s civil rights law is an important LGBTQ victory. American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa attorney Melissa Hasso said the lawsuit was the first related to transgender rights that has been filed since lawmakers. amended Iowa’s civil rights law in 2007 to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. When Vroegh won in district court, she said the verdict marked “a historic day for transgender Iowans, their friends and families.” Lawyers for the ALCU did not immediately comment but scheduled a press conference for later Friday. referred questions to the Iowa Department of Corrections, which did not immediately respond to a message. Case. The court, however, concluded that the allegation of sex discrimination should not have been put to the jury. correlate with its physiological state. Vroegh asserted that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity. The court rejected this argument. “Discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity does not equate to discrimination based on the individual’s male or female anatomical characteristics at the time of birth (the definition of ‘sex’). An employer could discriminate against transgender people without even knowing the gender of those aggrieved,” the court said. In February 2019, a jury found that the Corrections Department discriminated against Jesse Vroegh and that the state executive further discriminated against him by offering him medical benefits that do not wouldn’t cover her gender confirmation surgery. While the court on Friday upheld that verdict, awarding damages and paying more than $348,000 in attorneys’ fees, it dismissed Vroegh’s attempt to pursue a lawsuit against the insurance company. the state, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, for denial of coverage for surgery recommended by Vroegh doctors to treat gender dysphoria. Wellmark said his plan does not cover any gender confirmation surgery. This benefit was later covered for state employees starting in 2017. The decision comes as transgender rights have become the center of legal and political battles in several states. Employment discrimination cases related to gender identity are ongoing in states such as Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas. Additionally, Iowa is among several states where Republican lawmakers have passed laws to limit the participation of transgender athletes in sports. Previously :

The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday upheld much of a 2019 jury verdict that found the state discriminated against a transgender state prison employee in denying him use of the men’s restrooms and locker rooms, but the court dismissed part of the case centering on gender discrimination. .

The ruling means Jesse Vroegh, a former nurse at the Mitchellville Women’s Prison, won her trial on discrimination grounds based on gender identity and the jury’s verdict in damages of $120,000 for emotional distress.

The decision in which the full court recognized discrimination based on gender identity for transgender workers under the state’s civil rights law is a significant LGBTQ victory.

American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa attorney Melissa Hasso said the lawsuit was the first related to transgender rights to be filed since lawmakers amended Iowa’s civil rights law in 2007. to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. When Vroegh won in district court, she said the verdict marked “a historic day for transgender Iowans, their friends and families.”

Lawyers for the ALCU did not immediately comment but scheduled a press conference later Friday.

State attorneys declined to comment and referred questions to the Iowa Department of Corrections, which did not immediately respond to a message.

The court determined that the amended law added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics, allowing the jury to consider discrimination based on gender identity in Vroegh’s case. The court, however, concluded that the allegation of sex discrimination should not have been presented to the jury.

The court explained that it had previously separated sex from gender with sex meaning whether one is male or female and gender relating to behaviour, feelings and thoughts which are not always correlated to one’s physiological state.

Vroegh asserted that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity. The court rejected this argument.

“Discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity does not equate to discrimination based on the individual’s male or female anatomical characteristics at the time of birth (the definition of ‘sex’). An employer could discriminate against transgender people without even knowing the gender of those aggrieved,” the court said.

In February 2019, a jury found that the Corrections Department discriminated against Jesse Vroegh and that the state executive further discriminated against him by offering medical benefits that would not cover not her gender confirmation surgery.

While the court on Friday upheld that verdict, awarding damages and paying more than $348,000 in attorneys’ fees, it dismissed Vroegh’s attempt to pursue a lawsuit against the company’s insurer. State, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, for denial of coverage for recommended surgery. by doctors in Vroegh to treat gender dysphoria. Wellmark said his plan does not cover any gender confirmation surgery. This benefit was later covered for state employees from 2017.

The decision comes as transgender rights have become the center of legal and political battles in several states. Employment discrimination cases related to gender identity are ongoing in states such as Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas. Additionally, Iowa is among several states where Republican lawmakers have passed laws to limit the participation of transgender athletes in sports.

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