A federal district court in Seattle approved a settlement earlier this month in the class-action lawsuit Erickson v Bartell, filed in 2000 on behalf of employees of the Bartell drugstore chain who alleged that the exclusion of prescription contraceptives coverage in their health insurance constituted sex discrimination (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). Under the settlement–which dismisses Bartell’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court, class members who are current Bartell employees are exempt from making co-payments on prescription contraceptives and related services through 2006. Class members formerly employed at Bartell will receive a $100 reimbursement. The company will continue covering contraceptives and related services in its health plan, per a 2001 federal district court ruling.
Erickson and the class members were represented by attorneys from Planned Parenthood of Western Washington and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).
Women of reproductive age throughout the US continue to pay more out-of-pocket health care costs than men because of reproductive health expenses not covered by insurance plans, according to PPFA. “Contraception is basic health care,” said PPFA President Gloria Feldt. “Studies indicate that most Americans believe prescription contraception should be covered. It’s time for corporationsÉ to do what is right for the health of America’s women.”
In recent years, AT&T, Dow Jones, and Wal-Mart have all faced lawsuits from employees demanding coverage for prescription contraceptives.