A plasma donation company in the United States is being sued for discriminating against a transgender woman.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights filed a suit on Thursday (7 March) against CSL Plasma Inc. The suit alleges the company violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
The Duluth News Tribune reports Attorney General Keith Ellison assisted in filing the lawsuit.
According to Star Tribune, the suit was filed in response to a complaint by Minneapolis resident Alice James. James’ attorney expects her to join the suit as a plaintiff.
The complaint said that James began donating plasma to the center in Duluth, MN back in 2011. In June of 2015, a CSL Plasma employee informed James that company did not accept donations from transgender individuals and prohibited her from donating.
‘CSL Plasma discriminated against James in a place of public accommodation on the basis of her sexual orientation,’ the suit reads. The suit contends that James lost the ability to earn $60 [€53.38] a week by donating plasma.
The state is asking a judge to order CSL Plasma to compensate James ‘in an amount up to three times the actual damages sustained as well as damages for mental anguish and suffering.’ The suit also requests a civil penalty and that CSL Plasma employees undergo discrimination training.
CSL Plasma describes itself as ‘one of the world’s largest collectors of human plasma’. The company, which has locations across the country, had a ‘flat ban on all transgender donors’ up until 2016. At that time, their policy changed to allow donors to self-identify.
The company disputes the lawsuit and maintains it ‘acted lawfully.’
‘The state has made no efforts to discuss this matter with us in advance of filing its complaint,’ CSL Plasma spokesperson Robert Mitchell told the Duluth News Tribune. ‘Nonetheless, we will work with the Department to resolve this matter. Or, if that is not possible, will vindicate our position in court.’
‘CSL Plasma policies have evolved since the FDA updated its guidance on donor suitability in December 2015,’ Mitchell stated. ‘Since that time, CSL Plasma has put in place policies that support self-identification based on gender preference. The safety of the donors and employees are of paramount concern and help ensure the safety of the plasma that ultimately becomes life-saving therapies for patients with rare bleeding disorders.’
Despite this, the suit filed by the state alleges that James was turned away by CSL in 2018. She was allegedly told she should ‘try to donate plasma at a vendor other than CSL.’
‘I am proud to live in a state where the law demands that people be treated fairly,’ James said in a statement. ‘I hope this case helps to ensure fair treatment for other Minnesotans.’