DES MOINES, Iowa — A jury in Polk County Wednesday awarded Jesse Vroegh $120,000 for the two ways that his employer, the Iowa Department of Corrections, discriminated against him because he is transgender. Vroegh was denied use of the men’s restrooms and locker room at work as well as insurance coverage for medically necessary surgery.
This is the second jury award in recent months to a client of the American Civil Liberties Union who experienced discrimination for being transgender. In October, a Wisconsin jury awarded $780,000 to two women who were also state employees.
“The whole process of has been difficult and emotionally very trying for me,” said Jesse Vroegh. “My life has been put under a microscope because of this case. But I thought it was an important thing to do for the transgender Iowans who come after me. I hope this decision means that we will be treated fairly in the future.”
John Knight, an attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, said, “Transgender Iowans deserve the same dignity, respect, and access to health care and gender-appropriate restroom and locker room facilities as any other person. For many years, the law in Iowa has said that employers cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, and it has also barred gender identity discrimination since 2007. The state should have been a model for other employers in its treatment of transgender workers. Instead, it blatantly discriminated against Jesse Vroegh. The jury in this case obviously saw that what the state did was wrong and should never happen again.”
More information about Vroegh v. Iowa Department of Corrections is here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/vroegh-v-iowa-department-corrections
This statement is online here: https://www.aclu.org/news/iowa-jury-awards-120000-transgender-state-employee-discrimination-case