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Gay couple sues NYC over ‘discriminatory’ denial of IVF benefits

Author: Donald Padgett

A gay couple has filed a groundbreaking federal lawsuit against New York City alleging they were unfairly denied health care coverage through their insurance for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment because they are a gay male couple.

Corey Briskin and Nicholas Maggipinto have been battling to obtain IVF coverage from the city for several years. They note that their plan provides for three rounds of IVF coverage, but only for heterosexual couples and lesbians.

The suit claims the city is violating the couple’s rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which bars employers from discriminating against a person not just based on race, color, and national origin, but also a person’s sex. They say the city’s IVF coverage policy is prejudicial and discriminatory in its application for gay men.

The city denies IVF coverage to gay men because it claims they are not infertile. Only individuals who are unable to conceive a child through unprotected male-to-female coital intercourse qualify as infertile according to the city’s definition of infertility.

“By defining ‘infertility’ in this exclusionary manner, single female employees, female employees with male partners, female employees with female partners, and male employees with female partners are always potentially eligible for some IVF benefits under the City’s healthcare plan, but gay male employees—whether individually or with male partners—are never eligible for any IVF benefits,” the suit claims, according to NBC.

Briskin started work as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan in 2017, a year after he married Maggipinto. In 2022, he left for a higher-paying position in private practice to help cover the cost of surrogacy. Both men are still entitled to coverage for an additional three years following Briskin’s employment through COBRA.

The couple filed a complaint with the EEOC in 2022. The couple’s attorney, Peter Romer-Friedman, criticized the city’s response to the complaint, which cited surrogacy as the reason for the initial denial even though the couple only seeks coverage for the fertilization of donated eggs.

“The city should be embarrassed by what they filed at the EEOC,” Romer-Friedman told Mother Jones. “It didn’t grapple with the actual allegations. It didn’t provide real facts or real law when it comes to these issues.”

The city publicly defended its position at the time of the EEOC complaint.

“New York City has been a leader in offering IVF treatments for any city employee or dependent covered by the city’s health plan who has shown proof of infertility, and our policies treat all people covered under the program equally, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation,” a spokesperson for the city said in a statement.

The couple has spent approximately $80,000 to date in their efforts and told the Guardian the city has had enough time to meet what they say are their legal obligations to provide coverage.

“There have been ample opportunities for the city to have changed the policy over the past two years and they haven’t, without explanation,” Briskin said.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Donald Padgett

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