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Nation's Biggest LGBT Group Is Not Happy With Saks

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

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Saks Fifth Avenue's handling of a discrimination lawsuit filed by a transgender former employee has caused the Human Rights Campaign to speak out against the department store. Buzzfeed reports that Saks Fifth Avenue argued in court that the suit should be dismissed because "transsexuals are not a protected class under Title VII" of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The case was filed by Leyth Jamal, a transgender woman who was fired in 2012 from a Saks store in Texas. Buzzfeed states that Saks' lawyers are ignoring a 2012 decision of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—recently concurred by Attorney General Eric Holder—that Title VII does protect transgender people from discrimination under its ban on sex discrimination. In court, Saks also argued that Jamal couldn't sue for breach of contract regarding the company's nondiscrimination policy because "policies in an employee handbook do not create a contract."

HRC suspended Saks from its Corporate Equality Index. "In its court filings, Saks attempts to secure a motion to dismiss Ms. Jamal's allegations by simultaneously calling into question the validity of its own non-discrimination policy and the larger, crucial protections afforded by Title VII," Deena Fidas, director of HRC's Workplace Equality Program, told Buzzfeed.

A spokesperson for Saks Fifth Avenue told Buzzfeed: "Saks Fifth Avenue is proud of its proven track record in upholding a diverse, equitable, and rewarding work environment for Associates. However, as this matter is before the courts we are unable to comment further."
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