A Maine assisted living community’s settlement in a transgender discrimination lawsuit could have “groundbreaking” implications for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and how they serve LGBTQ seniors.
Adult Family Care Homes of Maine reached a settlement with the Maine Human Rights Commission after one of its communities — Sunrise Assisted Living in Jonesport, ME — was found to have violated state nondiscrimination protections when it denied Marie King, a transgender woman, a room due to her sexual orientation.
Sunrise “is happy to be working with GLAD [GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders] to improve its policies and procedures to ensure that it provides a welcoming environment” for everyone in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, according to John Hamer, an attorney for the provider.
He also described the situation with King as a “miscommunication,” McKnight’s Senior Living reported Wednesday. The complaint, he said, was based on a short conversation between a social worker and a Sunrise employee. He said King never applied for residency.
The settlement in the discrimination case doesn’t set a binding legal precedent, but legal experts believe it will raise awareness that long-term care facilities “must abide by various state and federal laws barring them from discriminating against transgender people,” NBC News reported.
“This is a groundbreaking case because it spells out for people what the minimum requirements of the law are and how to make sure that they comply with it,” Chris Erchull, a GLAD staff attorney, told the news site.