Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Court Enjoins Application To Christian Employers Of Protections For Gender Transition Services

In Christian Employers Alliance v. U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, (D ND, May 16, 2022), a North Dakota federal district court, responding to a suit by an employers' organization challenging federal agency interpretations of anti-discrimination requirements, issued a preliminary injunction barring the EEOC from interpreting Title VII to require plaintiff's members to provide insurance coverage for gender transition services. It also enjoined HHS from using Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act to impose on plaintiff's members who are health care providers an obligation to furnish or facilitate gender transition services or to restrict their speech on gender identity issues. The court said in part:

Defendants argue they will comply with RFRA but cannot predict ahead of time how RFRA will apply to the facts of a particular matter.... Religious freedom cannot be encumbered on a case-by-case basis.... The Alliance maintains if the government interest is to increase access to gender transition services, the government itself could assume the costs for those unable to afford them or obtain them under their employer’s religious objections in the health insurance policies. The Alliance reiterates the government could also provide subsidies, reimbursements, tax credits or deductions. Defendants must demonstrate a compelling interest to the Alliance’s substantial burden and have failed to do so. Determining on a case-by-case basis if a religious exemption should apply is certainly not the least restrictive means.

Bloomberg Law reports on the decision. (See prior related posting.)