A married same-sex couple filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against a former employer on Thursday in the US District Court for the Central District of California [official website] that alleges the company discriminated by refusing to provide spousal health insurance. Judith Dominguez was employed by Cherry Creek Mortgage [official website] when she enrolled herself and her wife, Patricia Martinez, in the UnitedHealthcare [official website] plan offered by the company in 2016. When Dominguez attempted to re-enroll the following year, her application was denied because Cherry Creek only covers “spouses who are in a legal union between one man and one woman.” The company also retroactively cancelled Martinez’s coverage. Martinez, who suffered two heart attacks in 2015 and requires regular cardiology checkups, has received more than $40,000 in bills from care that was previously covered. Additionally, Dominguez says Cherry Creek retaliated against her when she filed a complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [official website] by moving her to a branch office that was soon closing and then firing her. An attorney for Cherry Creek said [LAT report] that the company does not comment on pending litigation but a representative of UnitedHealthcare stated that Cherry Creek is a “Christian-based company” and that as their healthcare provider, they are obligated to operate at the company’s direction.
LGBT protections are still disputed and many rights groups have raised concerns about the future of LGBT rights within the US since the November elections. In July the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an amicus curiae brief [JURIST report] urging the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a man who claims he was fired for his sexual orientation. The Supreme Court of Texas held [JURIST report] earlier in July that the Houston’s benefits policy need not extend to same-sex couples. In June the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit lifted an injunction [JURIST report] on a Mississippi law that critics say allows individuals, including government employees, to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people for religious reasons. Also in June the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld [JURIST report] North Carolina’s Senate Bill 2, which allows magistrates to refuse to perform same-sex marriages if doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs. In May the US Supreme Court declined to hear [JURIST report] an appeal challenging California’s 2012 ban on “gay conversion” therapy. In April the US Department of Justice dropped [JURIST report] a federal lawsuit against the state of North Carolina over a bill requiring transgender people to use the public bathroom associated with their birth gender. In February the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that a Fayetteville city ordinance broadening nondiscrimination laws to include sexual orientation or gender identity was invalid under a state statute that prohibited cities from adopting or enforcing ordinances prohibiting discrimination beyond what is barred by state law.