A lesbian employee of a Catholic-affiliated institution in New York has filed a class-action lawsuit after being denied medical coverage for her wife.

The woman, whose name was not given, on Tuesday filed the action against St. Joseph's Medical Center in Westchester County, The New York Times reported.

St. Joseph's, unlike most companies in New York, is self-insured and as such is primarily governed by federal, not state, regulations.

New York state last July legalized gay marriage, but federal law does not recognize such unions. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), approved in 1996, defines marriage as a heterosexual union and bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples.

“I'm not just thinking about our particular situation,” said the unnamed hospital employee who said she feared retribution for speaking out publicly against her employer. “I'm also thinking about the folks who are behind us, the younger people in their 20s and 30s, who are thinking about getting married and who are going to have the same problem. It's just not socially fair.”

Debra S. Cohen of the firm Newman Ferrara said the class-action suit was filed on behalf of all married gay people in New York who are covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, which acts as the administrator, and are denied spousal coverage because their employers choose to use the federal definition of marriage, not only married gay employees of St. Joseph's.

“There's an extra layer of resistance, or justification, when you are dealing with an institution that has a religious basis for being opposed to same-sex marriage,” Cohen told the paper. “But we believe there are many companies that are not religiously affiliated that also have this double standard.”