Leyth O. Jamal, a former employee of a Texas Saks 5th Avenue, filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the company in December 2014 claiming she was harassed and fired for being transgender.
Rather than fight her claims as false or at the very least claim she was fired for reasons other than gender, Saks is making the bizarre move of insisting it has the legal right to discriminate against employees based on their trans status.
Let that sink in for a second. Saks’ legal strategy is to defend its right to terminate an employee based solely on the fact that they are transgender. If that sounds like a time warp it’s because it is.
Saks also refers to Jamal as “he” or “him” throughout its filings and even adds an insulting “[sic]” after female pronouns when they refer to her original claim.
But besides unnecessary insults and moral low ground, there’s another big problem with the retailer’s strategy — it’s not legal! Saks claims that “it is well settled that transsexuals are not protected by Title VII” of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Slate writes that:
Although the Supreme Court has not yet ruled that Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination covers gender identity, it has concluded that irrational sex stereotyping may qualify as discrimination “based on sex.” Following this judgment, several appeals courts have concluded that sex stereotyping includes trans discrimination and expanded Title VII’s protections to trans employees. Moreover, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled unequivocally in 2012 that Title VII forbids anti-trans discrimination—and while the EEOC’s rulings aren’t binding on courts, they’re generally afforded significant deference. Finally, the Justice Department itself interprets Title VII to cover “transgender status [and] gender identity.”
We’re utterly baffled why Saks, which has previously scored a 90 percent in the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, would choose to take this strategy. Legality aside (thought that’s still their biggest problem), Saks is creating its own PR disaster by asserting its right to harass and terminate trans employees.
Even if they somehow win in court, this is a lose/lose situation for everyone.
We hope the media attention this story receives inspires Saks to reconsider its position.
Alan down in Florida
If I could afford to shop at Saks I would now boycott them.
Low Country Boy
“Uttlerly baffled?” Try some independent thought and not quote Slate. I think the tone and tenor of this article is well meaning. I question the lack of true legal analysis. We have a ways to go on trans issues in this country.
I think the legality is in question. Neither Texas nor New York has a state statute protecting trans people against discrimination in the workplace. But it is sad that Saks is taking this position.
Why would they even *want* such a right?
You could have quoted businessweek. their story has more depth to it.
@hyhybt: You could ask why the boy scouts wanted the right to discriminate against gay people. some people are like that.
Maybe the way to go is to get the great fashion designers to boycot them.
“Queerty… Free of an agenda. Except that gay one.” Really? So what’s with all this trans BS lately? This site is supposed to be about LGB issues. Trans has nothing to do with LGB.
This isn’t about Saks. This is about Texas.
nobody should discriminate against anybody cause they are different
“We’re utterly baffled why Saks, which has previously scored a 90 percent in the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, would choose to take this strategy.”
Because HRC hasn’t really been about gay rights for 2 decades. They give high scores to companies that donate to them.
Remember, when Target was donating money to the candidate with ties to groups saying gay people should be killed, HRC at first tried to defend the high score they have to Target saying that Political donations didn’t count on their score.
They refused to comment to Target, or alter their scoring of them until there was a huge outcry.
Sacks donated to HRC, so to HRC that means they are LGBT friendly end of story.
Remember, when the push for marriage and ending DADT came around, HRC spent FAR more time attacking any other gay groups fighting for rights then they did attacking anti-gay bigots.
So when they say gay marriage that excludes lesbians from marrying… or how about we stick together as LGBT because divided we just won’t make it let’s be honest some people would love to see us hating each other becoming a weaker community please remember if they are discriminating against trans people don’t except them to be giving LGB citizens any respect either
@Michael93: Thank you for that.
Saks has set up a scenario where their actions could very well trigger a transgender civil rights backlash against conservative politicians that insist on withholding our rights in order to preserve some imagined right of christians to oppress transgender folk. The things people will do in an attempt to stay inside their artificial comfort zones amazes me.
What is with trans issues suddenly becoming gay issues? I support trans individuals and their rights but I don’t feel that every issue in their community is automatically a gay and lesbian issue. Trans issues are dealing with complex issues of gender identity, mental health in some cases and that makes the issues unique and not something we can all just instantly get and relate too.
The whole we are one community lets sing kumbaya and all that crap is not realistic the gay community has plenty to deal with on its own without taking on the trans issues which if you say the wrong term you are instantly branded transphobic and attacked by trans “activists”. Fight your own battles bitches.
Hmmmmm. Surely, not all our str8 allies ‘get and relate to’ our issues. But. they believe in our rights. For me, that’s enough. We definitely are not one community, but many. Whether we ‘get it’ or not, should we not stand together against bigotry and the simple injustices levelled against us all? Its the right thing to do.
seaguy please have some understanding to see that bible thumpers hate you too sorry brother we’re all in the same boat maybe you forgot because your family is awesome and supportive I know you only want to specifically just support Gay MEN but its going to be a small parade minusing LBT and straight supporters too, oh the “fight your own battles bitches” was especially hurtful thanks for that
@aliengod: You haven’t even been contributing here that long, who are you to say what this site is “supposed” to be about? Its “Queerty.com” and whether you like it or not, the term “queer” includes Trans as well as LGB. Deal with it, @$$hole.
@seaguy: “the gay community has plenty to deal with on its own”
Which we would be utterly POWERLESS to deal with without our allies, so what would you say if our straight allies all stopped supporting us and said “fight your own battles bitches” to us? Please stop being a douche bag.
Never thought I’d be debating LGBT rights on Queerty
I’ll be like Oprah “YOU get civil rights And YOU get civil rights YOU’RE ALL GOING HOME WITH CIVIL RIGHTS!!!
Thank You DarkZephry!!! I was feeling pretty down reading some of these comments, that cheered me up!
@DarkZephyr: Are you a complete idiot? What does my tenure with this site have to do with my opinion? My comment simply quoted the tagline for Queerty… “Free of an agenda. Except that gay one.”. If you’d like proof, simply scroll up and look at the top of the page. Being LGB has nothing to do with being trans. It’s two totally separate issues. You’re the one who needs to “deal with it, @$$hole”.
@aliengod: hahaha man it must suck being trans, you’re not accepted here you’re not accepted by majority of church groups, and most likely your family doesn’t accept you…aliengod just don’t click on articles that have to do with transgender people, you don’t realize you might be hurting some people with your comments
Sorry Qweerty, but there are no federal protections for LGBT, thus it falls to state and local protections, of which Texas has none.
Thus, completely legal. And if he files for unemployment in Texas, he will lose.
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