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CSL Plasma sued for discriminating against transgender woman

Minnesota Department of Human Rights and Minnesota Attorney General speak to lawsuit

3/7/2019 2:00:00 PM

ST. PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Human Rights, represented by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, filed suit today against CSL Plasma for violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act by discriminating against a transgender woman. The /mdhr/assets/Summons%20%26%20Complaint_tcm1061-374945.pdflawsuit, filed in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District Court in Hennepin County, details how the plasma collection center unlawfully denied Alice James, a transgender woman, from donating her plasma because of her gender identity.

“I am proud to live in a state where the law demands that people be treated fairly. I hope this case helps to ensure fair treatment for other Minnesotans,” said James.

In 2011, James began donating plasma at the CSL Plasma collection center in Duluth, MN. Although she is a woman, the center required her to list her assigned sex at birth—male—on the intake form. As she continued to donate plasma, James began marking female on the intake form, consistent with her gender identity.

In June 2015, an employee informed James that CSL Plasma did not permit transgender persons to donate plasma and prohibited her from donating. In February 2016, James filed a charge of discrimination with the Department of Human Rights and the Department investigated the allegations. In November 2017, the Department found probable cause that CSL Plasma discriminated against James because of her gender identity. CSL Plasma refused to settle the case through the Department’s conciliation process.

CSL Plasma continued to discriminate against James. In October of 2018, CSL Plasma again denied her the ability to donate at a collection center in Minneapolis.

“Refusing to allow James to donate her plasma solely based on her gender identity is unlawful and constitutes a clear violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman. “Our agency is committed to ensuring that the civil rights of all Minnesotans, including transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, are upheld so they can thrive and succeed. This lawsuit exemplifies our commitment to this work and seeks to prevent future discrimination.”

Under the Minnesota Human Right Act, transgender people are protected from discrimination. Businesses cannot refuse to do business with people who identify as transgender.

“As the People’s Lawyer, my job is to protect all Minnesotans, no exceptions,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is representing MDHR in this lawsuit. “State law gives the Department of Human Rights and my office the power to protect transgender folks’ right to live with dignity, safety, and respect, and we’re using that power today. I’ll use it whenever I need to make sure that there are no exceptions to the rule that transgender people count, transgender people matter.”

If you believe you have been discriminated against in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, please contact MDHR’s enforcement unit at 651.539.1100, 1.800.657.3704 or online at For more information, please visit or follow the conversation on Twitter at @mnhumanrights.

Document: /mdhr/assets/Summons%20%26%20Complaint_tcm1061-374945.pdfSummons and Complaint (PDF 318kb)


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