Magazine article Risk Management

Infertility Debate

Magazine article Risk Management

Infertility Debate

Article excerpt

Is infertility a disability? Rochelle Saks claims it is, and filed suit to make her company pay for her medical treatments. Ms. Saks is a New York City employee of Franklin Covey Company, a motivational material publisher and consulting firm headquartered in both Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah.

In April, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a Letter of Determination stating that Franklin Covey's decision not to pay for Saks' treatment violated various provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The currently accepted definition of infertility is having unprotected intercourse for one year without conceiving.

Of approximately $30,000 in associated medical costs, Franklin Covey reimbursed Saks for $3,000. Saks, her attorney Mark Sokoloff, of Jacob D. Fuchsberg, a law firm in New York, and members of RESOLVE, an infertility advocacy organization, call this blatant discrimination. Pamela Madsen, executive director of RESOLVE New York City, says that the organization assisted Saks, who is a member, and asserts that not covering infertility treatments amounts to disability discrimination. According to Madsen, the causes, or manifestations, of infertility are pretty evenly split, with 35 percent being female problems, 35 percent being male problems, another 20 percent a combination of the two and the remaining 10 percent unknown.

There are states that have insurance laws that mandate coverage for infertility treatment. Bill A7303 passed the New York State Assembly in May. The mirror bill, S3131, is now working its way through the New York State Senate and, if passed, would add the Empire State to a list that includes Massachusetts and Illinois.

According to Sokoloff, Franklin Covey agreed to pay for Saks' treatments when her condition was a matter of a "natural" hormonal imbalance treatable with an injection. But when she was diagnosed with a more severe form of infertility (an endocrinerelated ovulation disorder) and needed assisted technologyintrauterine insemination-the company refused to pay.

Saks argued to the EEOC that hers was medically necessary treatment and, therefore, warranted a Letter of Determinationlegal parlance for a document allowing a complaining party (Saks) to take her case to court. …

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