Transgender Worker Denied Health Coverage Challenges Discrimination by Manufacturer Turbocam, Inc

GLAD

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) has filed an employment discrimination case on behalf of a transgender woman challenging her employer, Turbocam, Inc.’s total exclusion of medical coverage for necessary healthcare related to gender transition. The claim was filed today at the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission under both state and federal nondiscrimination law.

Turbocam, Inc. provides healthcare coverage to workers as part of employee compensation. Lillian Bernier has worked as a machinist at Turbocam since 2019, including continuous work through the COVID pandemic. When Lillian sought coverage for doctor-recommended healthcare she learned that the company’s self-funded health plan excludes any coverage for treatment related to gender transition. Such an exclusion has no medical basis.

By implementing and maintaining the exclusion Turbocam is denying Lillian the same level of healthcare benefits that other employees receive because she is transgender. Lillian, who supports herself and her family through her income, has had to pay out of pocket for medical expenses and even delay some critical care, to the detriment of herself and her family.

“I’m proud of my work as a machinist at Turbocam,” said Lillian Bernier. “Like everyone else I rely on the pay and healthcare coverage from my job to support myself and my family. I’m just asking for fair coverage and to be treated the same as my coworkers.”

“Providing lesser health benefits to transgender workers is employment discrimination,” said GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders Attorney Chris Erchull. “By maintaining a blanket exclusion of coverage for healthcare related to gender transition Turbocam is trying to sidestep the law. Lillian has dedicated her time and energy to the company, including working onsite throughout the COVID pandemic. She is simply asking to be treated with the same dignity, humanity and fairness as other employees.”

Health Partners, Inc. (HPI), a Harvard Pilgrim company that administers Turbocam, Inc.’s self-funded plan, is also named in the complaint. As a third-party administrator, HPI assists Turbocam in maintaining and implementing its discriminatory exclusion of coverage for care related to gender transition in violation of state and federal law.

“Our client is seeking the same opportunity everyone deserves to do her job, take care of her health and be treated fairly by her employer,” said GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders Senior Director of Litigation Ben Klein. “Turbocam and Health Plans, Inc. are denying her equal employment benefits because she is a transgender woman. That’s wrong and it violates the law.”

Turbocam, Inc. employs over 900 engineers and manufactures parts for the HVAC, automotive, airline and other large industries. The company is based in New Hampshire.

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