GOOD

Saks Fifth Avenue Thinks Transgender People Aren’t Covered by the Civil Rights Act

Despite having a nondiscrimination policy in place, the luxury retailer tries to throw out a former employee’s discrimination lawsuit citing “transsexuals are not a protected class” under 1964 law.

Leyth O. Jamal. Photo courtesy Leyth O. Jamal.

In 2012, Leyth O. Jamal, a transgender woman, was fired from a Saks Fifth Avenue in Texas. She filed a discrimination lawsuit against the luxury retailer in December 2014, citing that her dismissal was due to her refusal to stop expressing her gender identity while on the job. Jamal claims that management ordered her to “separate her home life from her work life,” demanding that she adhere to more masculine standards of dress and use the men’s restrooms. When she failed to comply, and dared to speak out against the hostilities she was facing, she was terminated.


Beyond denying the allegations, Saks filed a motion on December 29, 2014, requesting that Jamal’s lawsuit be thrown out entirely, insisting that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that Jamal was staking her lawsuit’s grounds on didn’t legally apply to her as “transsexuals are not a protected class under Title VII” (which bans employment discrimination rooted in race, religion, or sex). Thus, Saks believes it’s well within its rights to hire, fire, or discipline Jamal—or any other persons of “‘non-traditional gender,’” as Saks’s legal team describes Jamal—however they damn well please. And, adding insult to injury, every mention of Jamal’s gender by Saks’s legal team is accompanied by a “[sic],” indicating the attorneys and client disagree with Jamal’s chosen pronoun.

Saks’s motion was filed soon after Attorney General Eric Holder mandated that transgender people are protected under Title VII in a memo, and apparently is choosing to turn a blind eye to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s ruling in 2012 that discriminating on the basis of gender identity is in line with illegal sex discrimination.

Jamal’s case has seized the attention of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT rights group in the States, who has since suspended Saks’s former highly favorable 90 percent rating on their Corporate Equality Index, a measurement of the LGBT policies (or lack thereof) of companies. Ironically, while Saks does have a nondiscrimination policy in place that accounts for gender identity protection, they argue that “policies in an employee handbook do not create a contract.” We’d then like to know why exactly these policies are written? Some light reading to peruse during a bathroom break? (Make sure you use the correct restroom, though.)

Kathleen Ruiz, Saks’s Senior Vice President, said in an email to Bloomberg that the company couldn’t comment on pending litigation, but issued a perfectly bland boilerplate statement reaffirming the company’s “long history of policies and practices that are fully supportive of the LGBT community.”

The pretrial is set to begin February 3, 2015.

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health