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Bizzari et al. v. The Charles T. Sitrin Health Care Center, Inc. (Challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation)

This case involves the refusal of a health care center to enroll two women in its publicly offered aquatic programs because of their sexual orientation. In the spring of 2004, Louise Bizzari and her domestic partner, Barbara Hackett, attempted to enroll in the fitness and rehabilitation programs offered to the public by the Charles T. Sitrin Health Care Center, Inc. near Utica, New York. As a result of significant medical problems, including severe osteoarthritis in her back and lower body, Ms. Bizzari’s body cannot withstand the stress caused by most forms of exercise, and she was ordered by her doctor to exercise in a pool. Upon learning of Ms. Bizzari’s and Ms. Hackett’s sexual orientation, however, the center refused to enroll either of them in their aquatic programs. Furthermore, Ms. Bizzari and Ms. Hackett were dismissed from the center’s rehabilitation pool, which was also open to the public. Since they have not been able to find another pool in the area that is both easily accessible and designed for rehabilitation, Ms. Bizzari fears that she will not be able to have future reconstructive surgery, and will suffer other negative health effects.

On Feb. 24, 2005, the NYCLU and ACLU filed a complaint on behalf of Ms. Bizzari and Ms. Hackett. The complaint claims that by refusing to allow Ms. Bizzari to enroll in its publicly offered programs because of her sexual orientation, the center discriminated against her in violation of the New York Human Rights Law, N.Y.Exec. Law § 296(2)(a). The suit seeks an order permanently enjoining the center from discriminating against the plaintiffs, as well as damages to be ascertained at trial. The case was resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both parties.

Supreme Court, Oneida County, Index No. CA-2005-431 (direct). 

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