Saks reaches settlement in the transgender discrimination lawsuit

Saks & Company has recently settled claims filed by its former employee Leyth Jamal. The settlement came after the company argued that discrimination based on gender identity was not covered under the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Leyth Jamal, who worked in a Houston Saks store, alleged in the lawsuit that she was harassed and belittled by her coworkers. She claims that she was forced to use the men’s restroom and was subjected to intentional and repeated use of male pronouns by her coworkers. She was ultimately fired in 2012 after which she filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In its response, Saks claimed that Title VII, the portion of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination based on sex, does not cover transgender people. Later, on January 26, 2015 the company withdrew its motion to dismiss the lawsuit after it received huge criticism and maintained that they would contest the suit but with focus on the merits of the specific claims.

In December of 2014, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice will no longer assert that “Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex does not encompass gender identity per se (including transgender discrimination.)”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2012 determined in Macy v. Holder that discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity is sex discrimination and thus constitutes a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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