Discrimination against Transgender Employees Violates Federal Civil Rights

Author: National Center for Lesbian Rights
Published: Wednesday 21st January 2015 - Updated: Tuesday 27th January 2015
Summary: NCLR and Human Rights Campaign file joint friend-of-the-court brief supporting former Saks Fifth Avenue employee Leyth Jamal, who has filed a case alleging that Saks discriminated against her for being transgender.


Yesterday, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas supporting former Saks Fifth Avenue employee Leyth Jamal, who has filed a case alleging that Saks discriminated against her for being transgender. In a request to dismiss the lawsuit, Saks argued - contrary to contemporary case law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the U.S. Department of Justice - that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect transgender workers.

In the joint brief, NCLR and HRC argue against Saks' unfounded assertions through three important points:

There is a broad legal consensus that Title VII protects transgender employees and the nation's top law firms - including Saks' own counsel in this case - have publicly advised employers that discrimination against transgender workers violates Title VII. The brief also notes that tens of thousands of employers have taken proactive steps to comply with the law by adopting non-discrimination policies that explicitly protect transgender workers.

The joint brief concludes:

"In sum, both the nation's leading law firms that advise employers and the nation's business community widely recognize that Title VII protects transgender employees and have acted accordingly to update their equal employment policies to comply with that requirement - at little or no cost, and to the benefit of both employers and employees."

Said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter:

"Courts across the country have held that Title VII prohibits discrimination against transgender people. Discrimination because a person has changed his or her sex is sex discrimination, just as discrimination because a person has changed his or her religion is religious discrimination. Saks' position that the law does not protect transgender workers is indefensible and dramatically out of step with the nation's leading businesses."

Added HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow:

"HRC has long helped employers adopt workplace policies to comply with the requirements of Title VII and to make their offices more inclusive of transgender employees. Most employers, including the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies, have recognized that protecting transgender workers is neither burdensome nor difficult. In fact, industry leaders recognize that protecting transgender employees is good for business and allows them to recruit the best and brightest workers."

UPDATE: Saks Fifth Avenue Withdraws Assertion Claiming Transgender People Not Protected by Title VII - U.S. Department of Justice files historic statement in the case asserting that Title VII prohibits discrimination against transgender people - By: National Center for Lesbian Rights - Published: (2015-01-27)


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