Transgender Man’s Treatment Discrimination Claim under ACA Section 1557 Stayed but State Law Claim to Proceed

On January 30, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota refused to stay a state law discrimination claim brought by Jakob Tiarnan Rumble, a transgender man, against defendant health care providers, but granted a stay of Rumble’s federal discrimination claim because of the nationwide preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Franciscan Alliance Inc. v. Burwell, 2016 WL 7638311 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 31, 2016), and the U.S. Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, 822 F.3d 709 (4th Cir. Apr. 19, 2016), stay granted, 136 S. Ct. 2442 , petition for certiorari granted, 137 S. Ct. 369 (Oct. 28, 2016).  Rumble v. Fairview Health Services, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13316; 2017 WL 401940 (D. Minn.) is pending before District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, who was appointed by President Obama in 2010.

Rumble sued defendants Fairview Health Services (Fairview) and Emergency Physicians, P.A. (Emergency Physicians) in June of 2014, alleging that defendants violated both Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557 ) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). In pertinent part, Section 1557 bars discrimination “on the basis of sex” in health care treatment and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in May of 2016 issued a final rule implementing Section 1557 providing that “discrimination on the basis of sex,” includes “discrimination on the basis of…gender identity.” The MHRA prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and Minnesota law defines sexual orientation as “having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness,” so it has been construed in the past to extend to gender identity discrimination claims.

For the full story, access the March 2017 issue of LGBT Law Notes.