A transgender Chicago resident is filing a federal lawsuit against a former employer after the company refused to pay for her breast removal surgery.
WFLD-TV reported that Morgan Mesi is suing liquor distribution firm Breakthru Beverage Illinois after the company informed her it would not provide coverage for her bilateral mastectomy, known as “top surgery,” to remove both breasts.
According to her complaint, Mesi decided to undergo a so-called gender transition in November 2016 after working for the company for about a year. By the following year, she had planned the necessary treatments and operations involved.
However, WFLD reported, her request to place the cost of the transition on her employer were denied after the union’s trustees wrote a letter to the insurance carrier, urging them to deny the request because it was deemed cosmetic.
“This lawsuit is about my right to control my body free from discrimination,” Mesi said at a news conference.
Also named in the lawsuit is the Local 3 Liquor and Allied Workers Union over their refusal to approve her demands for coverage.
“A board of trustees who has never met me should not be the ones deciding if my gender-affirming health care is medically necessary,” Mesi told reporters.
“That decision should be between me and my doctors,” she added.
Her medical appointments had previously been covered by insurance until her decision to pursue surgery, WFLD reported. She left the company in 2019.
Mesi claimed the letter, which said the insurance would only cover mastectomies in the case of cancer or risk of cancer, made her feel “betrayed” and like she no longer wanted to be alive.
“Reading the letter, I wanted to die,” she said.
“I was shattered. I thought my union would protect me. I felt betrayed. Why did they go against the direction of my doctors?”
The lawsuit now accuses the company of violating an array of laws, including Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Illinois Human Rights Act.
In an email provided to The Windy City Times, which describes itself as “the voice of Chicago’s gay, lesbian, bi, trans and queer community since 1985,” Breakthru categorically denied allegations of discrimination and pointed to its diversity programs as evidence of its commitment to transgender employees.
“While we do not discuss the details of pending litigation, we categorically deny any allegation that Tenzing or Breakthru discriminated against this associate in any way,” the statement read.
“Breakthru has a very active DE&I commitment with a wide variety of programs that support our associates’ ability to live and work as their true selves,” it added.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.