Trans Man Awarded Damages For Unpaid Medical Leave During Surgery And Recovery

Trans Man Awarded Damages For Unpaid Medical Leave During Surgery And Recovery

Published May 11, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Yesterday, Reykjavík District Court found in favour of a trans man whose employer denied him medical leave pay for gender affirming surgery. He has been awarded both the sum total of his denied pay and legal fees.

According to the ruling, the man in question had been confirmed by psychiatrist Óttar Guðmundsson, who heads Iceland’s trans medical team, to be experiencing gender dysphoria and was prescribed hormonal treatment. He would later undergo gender affirming surgery, but due to a problem which arose in the wake of the surgery had to be off work for about two months.

While the man believed he was entitled to medical leave, as protected in Icelandic labour law, his employer refused to pay. The employer believed that the surgery was elective and unnecessary, although the medical establishment has confirmed that gender affirming surgery not only can improve the mental health of trans people, it can also be life-saving.

Both Óttar and the doctor who performed the surgery submitted statements to the court which backed up this information, saying that the surgery was not elective but rather a foundation treatment for gender dysphoria for many trans people, and should therefore be covered by medical leave.

The court found in favour of the man, and ruled that the employer must pay him 480,000 ISK in back wages, plus 950,000 ISK in medical fees.

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