NYC sued for denying gay employees in vitro fertilization coverage

By Thomson Reuters May 9, 2024 | 9:34 AM

By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) – New York City was hit with a lawsuit on Thursday claiming it discriminates against gay male city employees by only covering the costs of in vitro fertilization for women and heterosexual couples.

The proposed class action was filed in Manhattan federal court by former assistant district attorney Corey Briskin and his husband, who say they were forced to put off having a family for years because the city’s employee health insurance plan denied them coverage for IVF procedures.

The plan only covers IVF treatments for employees and their partners when they are infertile and defines that term in a narrow way that categorically excludes gay men, according to the lawsuit.

The New York City Council is considering a bill introduced in March that would require the city to cover IVF treatments for all employees, regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation.

Many lawsuits have challenged unequal insurance benefits for LGBTQ people, including for fertility treatments. But Thursday’s lawsuit is the first proposed class action involving claims that a health insurance plan discriminated against gay men specifically, according to Peter Romer-Friedman, a lawyer for Briskin and his husband.

“No court has yet opined on the issue of whether gay men can be denied IVF benefits given to other employees,” he said, adding that the case could set national precedent on the issue.

The lawsuit claims that the city’s policy violates federal, state and city laws barring workplace discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation. The plaintiffs also say the denial of benefits violates their rights to equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution.

The proposed class could include thousands of people. New York City has about 300,000 employees and its healthcare plan covers about 1.25 million people, according to the complaint.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Michael Erman)