CSL Plasma sued for discriminating against transgender woman

CSL Plasma sued for discriminating against transgender woman Photo: KSTP

March 07, 2019 06:49 PM

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights filed suit on Thursday against CSL Plasma for violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act by allegedly discriminating against a transgender woman.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Minnesota's Fourth Judicial District Court in Hennepin County, the plasma collection center unlawfully denied Alice James, a transgender woman, from donating her plasma because of her gender identity.

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The lawsuit states that James began donating plasma to the center located in Duluth in 2011. The center required her to list her assigned sex at birth on the intake form. As she continued to donate plasma, James began marking female on the form, consistent with her gender identity. 

In June 2015, an employee informed James that CSL Plasma did not permit transgender persons to donate plasma and prohibited her from donating. In February 2016, James filed a charge of discrimination with the Department of Human Rights and the department investigated the allegations. The lawsuit goes on to say in November 2017, the department found probable cause that CSL Plasma allegedly discriminated against James because of her gender identity. The plasma collection center refused to settle the case through the department's conciliation process. 


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CSL Plasma would continue to discriminate against James, as in October 2018, they again denied her the ability to donate at a collection center in Minneapolis.

"Refusing to allow James to donate her plasma solely based on her gender identity is unlawful and constitutes a clear violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act," said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman. "Our agency is committed to ensuring that the civil rights of all Minnesotans, including transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, are upheld so they can thrive and succeed. This lawsuit exemplifies our commitment to this work and seeks to prevent future discrimination." 

A spokesperson from CSL Plasma said the following statement: 

"CSL Plasma acted lawfully and disputes the allegations by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights that it has violated the law. CSL Plasma policies have evolved since the FDA updated its guidance on donor suitability in December 2015. Since that time, CSL Plasma has put in place policies that support self-identification based on gender preference. The state has made no efforts to discuss this matter with us in advance of filing its complaint. Nonetheless, we will work with the Department to resolve this matter or, if that is not possible, will vindicate our position in court. At CSL Plasma, 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."

Under the Minnesota Human Right Act, transgender people are protected from discrimination. Businesses cannot refuse to do business with people who identify as transgender. 

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