Rachel Dovel, formerly known as Nathan, is a man who identifies as a woman. In September 2016, Dovel filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against his employer, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (“the library”), alleging the library’s categorical exclusion of insurance coverage for all procedures related to “sex transformation and/or the reversal thereof … regardless of origin or cause” discriminated against Dovel on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection of the Affordable Care Act. The complaint demands compensatory damages, coverage for sex reassignment surgery and “other medical care necessary to treat her [sic] gender dysphoria,” and seeks to enjoin the library from “maintaining an insurance policy that excludes coverage for transition-related care.” Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the library announced “it would offer coverage for sex reassignment surgery under the base plan.”
According to Dovel’s attorney, Jennifer Branch, “A government employer, like the public library, knows it cannot discriminate against its transgender employees; but yet it continues to deny Ms. Dovel necessary medical treatment. Rachel had no choice but to seek compensation for her estimated $25,000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses.” Dovel took out a personal loan and underwent surgery in December 2016.
In May 2017 the parties reached a settlement in which the library agreed to:
- Changed its healthcare plan effective Jan. 1 to include transgender surgery and other medical care for transgender people
- Agreed to listen to the recommendations of its employees about purchasing and offering LGBT-related materials and events
- Will continue its practice of using gender-neutral employment forms and providing gender-neutral restrooms when feasible
- Offer employees training on LGBT inclusion.
It is unclear whether there was a monetary settlement.