Maryam Abolfazli, a community leader who filed the complaint over Discriminatory Statements Used to Deny Metro Employees Trans-Inclusive Healthcare

An ethics complaint was filed on Thursday, July 27th with the Metro Clerk alleging two members of the Metro Employee Benefit Board misused their public position to vote against the expansion of the city’s employee health insurance plans to cover gender-affirming surgeries.

The complaint requests the Ethical Conduct Board investigate statements made by board members Edna Jones and Harold Finch II, alleging discrimination based on religious and other beliefs. 

“One of the Benefit Board members explicitly states that ‘her God’ is the reason she will not make decisions based on facts and research,” described Maryam Abolfazli, a community leader who filed the complaint. “And another Board member asserted that transgender employees are a ‘subgroup’ who do not have skills or talents that can’t be found from others in the workforce. It’s a problem when board members who make decisions that directly impact the health and wellbeing of Metro employees can make such blatantly discriminatory, hateful, and ignorant statements without fanfare or consequence.”   

Four Metro employees who say they are directly affected by the Board’s decision spoke about their experiences. Rj Robles, a metro employee stated “It is daunting that the Benefits Board members who voted no feel correct in their decision to ultimately stifle my health care needs.” 

“This decision echoes the  dark ages of the HIV crisis era, where the government turned a blind eye to the queer and trans community. It is a painful reminder that the discrimination and hatred we thought we overcame still exists today.” – Alex Danner – Metro Public Servant “This hypocrisy is a slap in the face to every trans employee who has devoted their life to serve this city. We are not disposable commodities, we are hardworking and talented individuals who have contributed to the growth of this city.” 

The complaint is focused on the Benefit Board’s meeting on June 6, 2023. The specific motion under consideration was to add coverage to Metro’s self-funded medical plans for medically-necessary gender reassignment procedures for covered individuals over the age of 18. The motion failed with a vote of 5 against and 4 in favor.

This is after a similar motion failed with a vote of 7-3 in December 2021. Several LGTBQ service and advocacy organizations, medical professionals, and representatives from the SEIU Local 205 and the Mayor’s Office have publicly urged Benefit Board members to pass this policy. According to current rules and procedures, a year must pass before the Benefit Board can consider the proposal again. Community members expect a formal response from the Ethical Conduct Board and Metro Legal within 14 days of today’s submission.

A copy of the complaint is attached.