Pangborn v. Ascend
Update: January 10, 2020. GLAD has filed Alexander Pangborn’s case with the Federal Court in Western Massachusetts, and removed the case from the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This is an important case to break down barriers we still see for transgender people accessing healthcare and fair treatment in the workplace.
GLAD has filed a charge of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Alexander Pangborn, a hospice care nurse and employee of Ascend who was denied coverage for medically necessary healthcare because he is a transgender man.
Ascend, a hospice and palliative care provider owned by Care One Management, offers health services benefits through a self-funded plan — a type of plan used by many large employers in which the company covers employee healthcare costs directly rather than through an insurance policy.
While seeking medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare in consultation with his doctor, Pangborn learned that his employer has a blanket exclusion for any healthcare related to gender transition.
The complaint alleges that by treating him differently – not offering him the same benefits other employees get — because he is a transgender man, Pangborn’s employer is discriminating against him in violation of both MA and federal employment law, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Honestly, it was very crushing,” Pangborn told the Boston Globe about learning of the exclusion. “My co-workers, we all pay into the same system to receive health care, and you are saying my medically necessary care isn’t necessary. That makes you feel devalued as an employee and also as a person.”
“Healthcare decisions should be made by medical professionals, not by employers,” says GLAD Attorney Chris Erchull. “It is unlawful to single out transgender employees and to give them a lesser employee benefit package than all other employees.”