(Cincinnati, OH, May 15, 2017)—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, along with Gerhardstein & Branch and the Law Office of Scott Knox, announced that they reached a settlement in Rachel Dovel v. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, et al. Ms. Dovel has received insurance coverage for gender affirming surgery, which was previously excluded under the Library’s employee health care plan. In 2016, Ms. Dovel was forced to take out a personal loan to cover the cost of her medically necessary gender affirming surgery when faced with this coverage exclusion. In addition to Ms. Dovel’s health care coverage, as part of the settlement the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, where Ms. Dovel continues to work, agreed to continue to expand the Library’s efforts to build an inclusive and trans positive environment, including expanding materials on LGBTQ issues.
“Employers across the country should take note that denying medically necessary care for transgender employees is unlawful,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Transgender Youth Project Staff Attorney Asaf Orr. “Today, we applaud the Cincinnati public library system and its employee health care insurer for choosing to do the right thing. This settlement not only rights a wrong for Ms. Dovel, it seeks to eliminate stereotypes and misinformation about the LGBTQ community by increasing the public library’s collection on these issues and changing its employment practices. This is a victory for all LGBTQ Cincinnatians.”
“We want LGBTQ Cincinnatians to know that we are here for you and will work to ensure that you are not the targets of workplace discrimination,” said co-counsel for Rachel Dovel Gerhardstein & Branch’s Jennifer L. Branch. “This settlement demonstrates how critical it is that we work with employers to resolve issues fairly for employees. We are proud of the steps the Cincinnati Public Library is taking to create a better city and a better workplace for the LGBTQ community.”
This case, filed in September 2016, argued that denying medically necessary health care for a transgender employee constituted discrimination on the basis of sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause. Legal documents filed by Ms. Dovel noted that non-transgender employees received medical coverage for the same or substantially similar medical care denied to transgender employees.
“I am pleased that we were able to resolve this case, which affects not just me but current and future employees and their families who may need access to transition-related care,” said plaintiff Rachel Dovel. “Through the settlement, the Library recognizes the importance of providing transgender employees with access to medically necessary transition-related care and has committed to concrete steps to ensure that it is meeting the needs of it LGBTQ employees and patrons.”