While the transgender community has made great strides in being represented in pop culture, in real life, they are still experiencing high levels of discrimination. Late last year, a trans-woman Leyth Jamal filed a suit against her former job at Saks Fifth Avenue, as it was allegedly suggested by higher-ups to “separate her home life from her work life,” aka behave more manly while she’s on the clock. When Jamal spoke up, she was terminated. Saks & Co. has since filed a federal motion on their end to have Jamal’s case dismissed, blatantly claiming that “transsexuals are not a protected class under Title VII.”
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Title VII is the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which” protects individuals against employment discrimination on the bases of race and color, as well as national origin, sex, and religion.” According to Saks, because the words “transsexual” and “transgender” are not explicitly listed in the original Act, technically they can discriminate or resist Jamal’s suit. It’s a heartless move for Saks & Co. to resort to, but what could work in Jamal’s favor is that on December 15, Attorney General Eric Holder declared the trans community was protected under Title VII, officially rejecting “sex-stereotyping theories.” Yet, as pointed out by Bloomberg, while this was a move in the right direction for these newer concerns of equality and identification, another battle exists in that the trans-related cases may be ill-equipped in having the”full legal force” of the Supreme Court, making them susceptible to dismissals.
Of course, Saks claimed they are have ” long history of policies and practices that are fully supportive of the LGBT community and our LGBT associates” but the realness of this case doesn’t exactly spell out solidarity. Due to Saks’ decision to play dirty, the Human Rights Campaign even went ahead and lowered Saks on the Corporate Equality Index (which basically rates a company’s standing on equality and diversity.) The suit is pending.
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