The following article appeared in the Metro Section of the December 7, 1998 edition of the New York Times.


April 29, 1999

U.S. Agency Says Employer Should Pay for a Woman's Infertility Treatments
In a decision hailed as a major legal victory for infertile couples, a Federal agency has ruled that a national publishing company violated disabilities laws by refusing to pay for an employee's infertility treatments.

The employee, Rochelle Saks, a 37-year-old bookstore manager in White Plains, sued last year when the company's medical plan said she must pay almost $20,000 to the doctor who treated her for hormonal imbalance, artificially inseminated her with her husband's sperm and provided care when she had a miscarriage.

After several months of battle with her employer, the Franklin Covey Company, a publisher of motivational books and educational materials, Ms. Saks was reimbursed by the medical plan for about $3,000 of those bills, according to a ruling by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that was issued on Tuesday and provided yesterday by Ms. Saks's lawyers.

The ruling, a first of its kind in New York and possibly in the country, said that the company had not provided "substantial" infertility-related benefits and that "exclusion of medically necessary treatments for infertility" violated parts of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The company declined yesterday to answer questions about the case, but released a statement saying, 'This is an insurance industrywide issue, and it's only the beginning of an

E.E.O.C. administrative process that will continue to evolve."

Ms. Saks's case and a trickle of similar complaints around the country have begun to come before the employment commission mostly as the result of an unrelated Supreme Court decision last summer that declared reproduction a "major life activity" and ruled that those who could not bear children were protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Elizabeth Grossman, a supervisory trial lawyer for the employment commission's New York district office, said she was prohibited under Federal law from commenting on Ms. Saks's case while it was still being investigated. The ruling now gives the company the chance to enter into discussions to settle Ms. Saks's complaint, and if an agreement cannot be reached, the case will move to Federal Court.

But Ms. Grossman did say that few infertility coverage cases have advanced from the administrative realm to court, where a ruling by a Federal judge could have a huge impact on whether companies and insurers must pay for infertility procedures.

Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company

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