Jessie Vroegh and his wife Jackie. (Photo courtesy ACLU)

Iowa trans man Jesse Vroegh has won $120,000 in damages in his discrimination lawsuit against his employer, the Iowa Department of Corrections, according to a press release from the ACLU, lawyers that represented Vroegh in the case.

A Polk County jury decided the lawsuit.

Vroegh filed the discrimination suit after the Iowa DOC denied him use of the men’s restrooms and locker room at work and denied him insurance coverage for medically-necessary surgery.

ACLU representatives note that this is the second jury award in recent months to an ACLU client who experienced discrimination for being transgender. In October, a Wisconsin jury awarded $780,000 to two women who were also state employees.

Vroegh said that “the whole process of has been difficult and emotionally very trying” and that his life “has been put under a microscope because of this case.”

But, he added, “I thought it was an important thing to do for the transgender Iowans who come after me. I hope this decision means that we will be treated fairly in the future.”

John Knight, an attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, said, “Transgender Iowans deserve the same dignity, respect, and access to health care and gender-appropriate restroom and locker room facilities as any other person.

“For many years, the law in Iowa has said that employers cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, and it has also barred gender identity discrimination since 2007,” Knight added. “The state should have been a model for other employers in its treatment of transgender workers. Instead, it blatantly discriminated against Jesse Vroegh. The jury in this case obviously saw that what the state did was wrong and should never happen again. ”

— Tammye Nash