Rate, who has been an attorney for Maloney since she filed her complaint in 2018, said he thought Montana’s constitution had always acknowledged transgender and non-binary as a protected class; that acknowledgment just needed legal clarification, he said.
In arguing on behalf of Maloney, Rate said the only similar cases for her attorneys to reference were those in which pregnant women were denied health care by their place of work.
“The analogy that we drew was that somebody was denied care based on a provision under the Yellowstone County health care plan,” he said.
Along with the Montana Human Rights Act, the bureau also cited a recent United States Supreme Court decision which ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extended to protecting against discrimination in the workplace based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The decision of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, encompassed three cases which involved individuals fired from their jobs after coming out as transgender.
“Prior to that U.S. Supreme Court decision, there was a lot of doubt because in Montana there had not been a court that definitively addressed the issue,” Rate said.
A hearing will be held Tuesday to address the damages owed to Maloney.
Chief In-House Cousel for Yellowstone County Jeana Lervick said Friday’s decision was against the provision in the county employee’s health care plan, and not against the county.