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Urgent Care Co. Shirks Trans Job Applicant, Court Told

By Alexis Shanes · February 12, 2021, 4:30 PM EST

A transgender man denied a medical assistant job at a New York COVID-19 testing site sued an urgent care provider in state court, saying he was turned away because of his gender identity despite having more experience than people who were hired.

In a complaint filed Wednesday in New York state court, Domonique Santiago said MedRite Testing LLC denied him work even though the company had a shortage of medical assistants and he was willing to accept $2 per hour less in pay than the going rate.

"Defendant treated plaintiff differently because of [his] sexual orientation," he said in the complaint. "Defendant did not hire plaintiff because [he] is a male-presenting lesbian."

Santiago, who said he had two years of clinical experience, interviewed for a medical assistant position at MedRite after a former colleague, a current MedRite employee, recommended him for the job, according to the complaint.

However, Santiago ran into problems before the interview even began, he alleged. While he waited at the MedRite office for his interview, two administrators took double looks at him and "shook their heads in disapproval," he said.

Then MedRite's human resources director introduced himself to two other job applicants but did not even ask Santiago's name, he alleged.

The director excused himself shortly after starting Santiago's interview, saying he needed to speak to his boss, he said. The director did not make eye contact with Santiago or discuss his credentials and experience during the interview, he claimed.

Santiago said he was prepared to take a position for $15 an hour at a Bronx site testing for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. But the director's promised call for a second interview never came, he alleged.

Noting that MedRite was opening new testing sites and needed more medical assistants, the current employee who recommended Santiago asked the director about the holdup with Santiago's application, according to the complaint. In response, the director said, "That one … I'm still in talks with management about that one," Santiago claimed.

Instead, MedRite hired workers with no clinical experience, Santiago alleged. At one testing site, current MedRite employees saw new hires taking patients' vital signs incorrectly, he said.

"At the time of the filing of this complaint, the defendant is still looking for medical assistants," Santiago added.

Santiago alleged MedRite violated New York City and state laws against sex discrimination. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages, front and back pay, and attorneys' fees.

An attorney for Santiago told Law360 Friday his client asked to be identified using masculine pronouns. The complaint, however, uses mostly feminine pronouns.

A representative of MedRite could not be reached for comment Friday.

Santiago is represented by Ismail Sekendiz of Sekendiz Law Group PC.

Counsel information for MedRite was not immediately available Friday.

The case is Santiago v. MedRite Testing LLC in New York State Supreme Court for New York County. The case number was not immediately available Friday.

--Editing by Vincent Sherry. 

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