CREEC Helps Client Obtain Reimbursement for Gender-Affirming Surgery

Today, CREEC announced a resolution for client Kendrick W., a transgender employee of a Bay Area start-up company who was denied insurance coverage for transition-related surgery due to an exclusion in his employer’s health insurance plan. Kendrick contacted CREEC shortly before his planned surgery. CREEC helped Kendrick negotiate a resolution with his employer so Kendrick could have the surgery on the scheduled date and be fully reimbursed for the costs. “I was really upset when I found out my insurance company refused to cover the surgery. I’m grateful to CREEC for helping me get reimbursed, and I felt so much better going into the surgery knowing that I would not have to pay for it myself,” said Kendrick. “We’re pleased with the resolution. A transgender employee should not have to pay out of pocket for medically necessary procedures when the company’s insurance plan covers the same procedures for people who aren’t transgender,” said Julie Wilensky, Director of CREEC’s California...

Welcome, Amis!

CREEC extends a warm welcome to Amis Pan, our summer law clerk. Amis is a member of the Berkeley Law class of 2018 and is working in CREEC’s California office this summer.

Daily Journal Selects Julie Wilensky for 2016 Top 40 Under 40 List

Director of CREEC’s CA office Julie Wilensky was recently selected by the Daily Journal as one of 2016’s Top 40 Under 40 lawyers in California. In a profile published on May 18, the Daily Journal highlighted Julie’s litigation and advocacy on behalf of LGBT people in employment and employee benefits cases. Julie commented that “while issues involving recognition of same-sex marriage will eventually resolve, employment discrimination remains a huge problem for LGBT people,” and that “this is especially the case for those who are transgender or gender non-conforming, who experience high rates of harassment or mistreatment at...

Court Grants Final Approval of Hotel Transportation Class Settlement

On May 3, 2016, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted final approval of a class action settlement and certified a settlement class in CREEC et al. v. RLJ Lodging Trust. RLJ owns approximately 127 hotels throughout the country. The lawsuit, brought by CREEC and three individuals with mobility disabilities who use wheelchairs, alleges that many hotels owned by RLJ provide transportation services to guests, but fail to provide equivalent wheelchair-accessible transportation services as required by the ADA and California state law. As a result of the settlement, the hotels owned by RLJ that provide transportation services to their guests will provide equivalent accessible services to guests who use wheelchairs or scooters. The accessible services will be equivalent in timing, notice, routes or geographic scope, fares, hours, reservations, and restrictions. The settlement provides for three years of monitoring of the hotels to ensure compliance. As the Court noted in the final approval order, the settlement’s “extensive injunctive relief, combined with robust monitoring, is an excellent result for the class.” In an earlier order, the Court also held that the three individual plaintiffs had standing as testers to pursue injunctive relief under the ADA. CREEC, along with fabulous co-counsel CCDC and Campins Benham-Baker LLP, represents the plaintiffs and the settlement...

Settlement Underscores Requirement that Covenants and HOAs make Reasonable Accommodations

CREEC is pleased to announce that the Lofland family will be able to park the special needs recreational vehicle — so essential to their son’s therapy and well-being — next to their house in Larkspur, and to build the fence they need to ensure his safety.    The Perry Park Filing #3 “Architectural Control Committee” (ACC), tasked with enforcing the covenants in their neighborhood had, for the past year, refused to approve these measures, leading CREEC to file suit earlier this year. The ACC was under the incorrect but unfortunately common misconception that its covenants trumped federal fair housing law and that, because the Loflands had not submitted their many requests in the format required by the ACC, the requests could be denied.  In fact:   The Fair Housing Act requires reasonable accommodations in homeowner association (HOA) rules and other covenants where necessary to ensure that people with disabilities can use and enjoy their dwellings. Furthermore, the Departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development have issued guidance clarifying that Housing providers, including HOAs, architectural committees, and landlords, may not refuse a request for a reasonable accommodation because the individual making the request did not follow any formal procedures that the provider has adopted. It’s unfortunate that it took a lawsuit, but almost immediately after suit was filed, the ACC came to the table offering to resolve the claims.  On April 22, 2016, the Court entered a Consent Decree stating that the defendants acknowledged that the fair housing act required the requested accommodations and ordering the defendants to take no action to prevent either the RV or the fence. Congratulations...
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