New-York News

City sued for withholding IVF coverage for gay male employees

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A former New York City assistant district attorney and his husband are suing the city, claiming its health plan discriminates against gay male couples by denying them coverage of in vitro fertilization benefits. 

The city plan’s definition of “infertile” violates federal, state, and city civil rights law by excluding gay male couples, while including gay female couples and different-sex couples, former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Corey Briskin and husband Nicholas Maggipinto argue in a proposed class action filed Thursday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

 

The lawsuit raises bigger questions about who qualifies for fertility-related care under employer-sponsored plans, an issue that’s taken on more significance since the US Supreme Court’s landmark Bostock v. Clayton County decision that affirmed protections for LGBTQ+ employees under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

At least two federal court decisions, one in California and another in Illinois, have since said that a health-care plan that excludes IVF for same-sex couples or imposes greater costs for them to use it than other couples can be deemed discriminatory, according to Thursday’s complaint.

The complaint seeks an injunction to end the city’s current policy that restricts coverage of IVF treatment for same-sex male couples.

The New York City health plan defines “infertility” as the inability to conceive through male-female sexual intercourse or through intrauterine insemination for 12 months, according to the complaint.

“In this case, the City of New York has not just made it harder for gay men like Mr. Briskin and Mr. Maggipinto to qualify for IVF benefits,” the complaint says, “the City has made it impossible for gay men to qualify for IVF benefits.”

The office of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who is also named in the complaint along with former Mayor Bill de Blasio, said it is reviewing the suit.

“The Adams administration proudly supports the rights of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers to access the health care they need,” a city hall spokesperson said in a statement. “The city has been a leader in offering IVF treatments for any city employee or dependent covered by the city’s health plan who has shown proof of infertility, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Legal history

The question of access has also been raised on a federal level. The Biden administration in March announced it was amending its IVF guidelines to extend the benefits to veterans and active servicemembers who are single or in same-sex relationships.

The New York City employee health care plan covers 75% the costs of IVF, including associated tests and procedures, according to the complaint.

Briskin and Maggipinto said they successfully created embryos last year without the plan’s coverage.

The couple previously filed a discrimination charge with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April 2022, and was given a “right to sue” letter from the Department of Justice, their complaint said.

The city argued in a position statement following the EEOC charge that the two were asking for benefits related to a surrogate—which are not covered—but Briskin and Maggipinto countered they were only asking for coverage of egg retrieval and fertilization in the same manner that the service is covered for other couples.

Briskin left the city to clerk for a federal judge in January 2022, but he and Maggipinto remain covered under the city plan through COBRA.

The complaint says the city’s health-care policy violates Title VII, the New York State and City Human Rights Laws, and the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the US and New York State Constitutions.

Briskin and Maggipinto are represented by Peter Romer-Friedman and Patrick David Lopez of Peter Romer-Friedman Law PLLC.

Lopez served as the general counsel for the EEOC from 2010 to 2016, where he advocated to advance protections for LGBTQ+ workers under Title VII.

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Lauren Clason, Bloomberg News , 2024-05-09 23:23:31

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