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Montana Human Rights Bureau rules Yellowstone County discriminated against transgender employee

Posted at 3:33 PM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 18:00:13-04

BILLINGS – The Montana Human Rights Bureau has ruled in favor of a former Yellowstone County employee who says she was discriminated against because she is transgender.

Eleanor Andersen Maloney, a former deputy county prosecutor, was denied health-insurance benefits for medical costs related to her gender transition procedure, according to a Wednesday release from the ACLU of Montana.

She resigned her position June 18, 2018, identifying the denial of coverage as her reason for leaving after 16 months.

“I was denied medically necessary coverage because of an outdated and discriminatory insurance practice,” said Maloney said in a statement released by the ACLU. “It hurts to be treated differently just because of who you are.”

She initially filed a grievance with Yellowstone County Human Resources, which was denied. The ACLU then filed a grievance on Maloney’s behalf with the state’s Human Rights Bureau in September 2018.

Maloney was a senior deputy county attorney who prosecuted child abuse and neglect cases. She started with the county on Feb. 13, 2017.

Yellowstone County has 30 days to settle with Maloney, or the complaint will move forward to the Hearings Bureau for a formal hearing.

The county denied discriminating against Maloney, according to the Human Rights Bureau’s final investigative report.

County officials stated in the report that transgender people are not a protected class under state or federal law, nor does Montana require insurance companies to cover gender-transition-related procedures.

The ACLU contends, and the Human Rights Bureau agreed, that discrimination against transgender people is a form of sex discrimination, which is prohibited under state and federal law.

“The County is denying medical procedures related to changing from one sex to another sex. If Montana has a statute that says an insurance product cannot discriminate on the basis of ‘sex’ and an insurance product denies coverage for procedures involved in changing from one sex to another sex, it seems like a leap of logic to argue this is not ‘sex’ discrimination,” wrote Barry Ivanoff of the Montana Human Right Bureau in the report.