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Saks Fifth Avenue Is No Longer Claiming It Has A Right To Discriminate Against Transgender Workers

Jamal.Leyth

After weeks of pressure from LGBT groups, Saks Fifth Avenue has withdrawn a court filing in which the department store chain alleged it has a right to discriminate against transgender workers. 

BuzzFeed reports that attorneys for Saks on Monday withdrew their motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Leyth Jamal (above), a transgender woman who worked at the company's Houston Galleria store. 

Jamal sued Saks for wrongful termination based on sex in violation of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, in addition to a hostile work environment, retaliation and breach of contract. 

In their motion to dismiss, attorneys for Saks shockingly alleged that transgender workers aren't protected against discrimination under Title VII — despite findings to the contrary from both the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and US Attorney General Eric Holder. 

Attorneys for Saks also misgendered Jamal and argued that Saks isn't bound by the nondiscrimination policy in its employee handbook, which includes gender identity. 

In response to Saks' filings, the Human Rights Campaign suspended the company's score of 90 on the Corporate Equality Index. HRC also joined the National Center for Lesbian Rights in filing a brief in Jamal's case supporting her claim under Title VII. Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into Saks' transgender-related employment practices in the Empire State. 

Saks finally relented, and in withdrawing their motion to dismiss, the company's attorneys wrote: 

“Saks is confident that, as this matter proceeds, the facts will demonstrate that Plaintiff’s allegations are wholly without merit, that Saks did not discriminate against Plaintiff, and that Saks’ policies and procedures are effective in ensuring an inclusive and diverse workplace free of discrimination and harassment."

Also Monday, the Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in the case supporting Jamal's claim under Title VII, BuzzFeed reports. 

It will be interesting to see how Jamal's case plays out from here, but it's already had a lasting impact. If nothing else, it's doubtful we'll see too many more major corporations with a record of support for the LGBT community claiming Title VII doesn't protect transgender workers. 


Sundance Report: 'Tangerine'

  Tangerine-bitches
I have something to tell you, bitch: this movie is awesome!

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

Indie director Sean Baker and co-writer Chris Berloch specialize in portraits of characters on the margins of society. Baker's previous slice-of-life film was the still underappreciated Starlet (2012), which traced an unlikely friendship between a young porn star and an old woman she meets at a garage sale.  Their very worthy follow up is TANGERINE (not to be confused with the Estonian drama currently nominated for Oscar's Foreign Film Category called Tangerines). Again we find Baker looking at places others haven't thought to look — or at least haven't looked at with anything like the same affectionate humor and nuanced humanity.

In this case that place is a Hollywood block filled with ex-con trans hookers who still have their penises, their lonely trade, immigrant cab drivers, and the colorful seedy neighborhood they all share. Tangerine is filled with memorable scenes in busted-ass laundromats, car washes, cheap motels with "party rooms", and of course Donut Time. The movie tells the story of a single event-filled day and night (Christmas Eve) in the lives of Sin-Dee Rella (Kiki Kitana Rodriguez) and her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) who treats her to half a holiday sprinkled donut in the movie's abrasively funny opening scene. 

"Merry Christmas, bitch."

Tangerine-strut

(Remember that claim that Wolf of Wall Street used the most "f--ks" ever uttered in a movie? I hope Tangerine makes that claim for "bitch".)

MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Sundance Report: 'Tangerine'" »


Gay Iconography: Janet Mock's 'Realness' Revolution

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 4.21.32 PM

There are lots of reasons to celebrate writer, activist and host Janet Mock. She’s an inspiring speaker, a brilliant writer and an eloquent advocate for women, people of color and the trans community.

Even though she doesn’t identify as gay (which never kept the icon label from Barbra or Cher or Liza), her work has far-reaching implications that extend throughout the LGBT community. Since first sharing her story in Marie Claire magazine in 2011, Mock has been an outspoken and visible presence in the media, from her work as an editor for People.com and Marie Claire to her bestselling memoir, Redefining Realness. Her heartfelt, straightforward approach to discussing complex issues like intersectionality combined with her Beyoncé-level ferocity are enough to warrant admiration, but Mock’s work has more direct ties to the greater gay community. As she explained to Autostraddle last year:

“You know, I really I wish that we could really talk about gender expectations within the [LGBT] movement. I think that when we’re all born we’re told that if you’re assigned male or female at birth and you’re supposed to, you know, like the ‘opposite sex,’ that’s who you’re supposed to be with. I think it’s about all of those supposed gender expectations. And I think that if we would have kind of started the movement there in that sense, I think we could have been more cohesive in our journeys forward without excluding people.”

Get familiar with more of Janet Mock’s work, AFTER THE JUMP

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You Can Binge-Watch the Entire Season of 'Transparent' for Free Today

Transparent

Those of you looking for a way to sit out the cold weather today might consider binge-watching Transparent, Amazon's Golden Globe-winning series about an L.A. family and its three adult children adjusting to their father's coming out as a trans woman.

Amazon is allowing anyone to view the entire series for free all day today. The catch is that they'll try to hook you into signing up for its Amazon Prime service at a discounted rate.

The show will be at Amazon.com/transparent.

Also, check out our Bobby Hankinson's interview with star Jeffrey Tambor here.


Alexis Arquette On Her Transition, Celebrities, And the Topping Of Jared Leto

Arquette_leto

It's been a while since we last mentioned Alexis Arquette, but the connecting thread between then and now remains the same: sex with Jared Leto. Evidently, Leto's "massive" penis went unused as he bottomed for a trans friend of Arquette.

Arquette dishes on much more in the shameless gossip piece with Out.com, including her annoyance with how poorly transfolk are represented in the media, on Oprah wanting to actually film her transition surgery for a documentary, and on being unable to register for Twitter because celebrity leech/gadfly Perez Hilton had already registered her name.

The interview is a bit of a guilty pleasure puff piece, but credit has to be given to Arquette for being loudly, fiercely, and unapologetically trans:

Unless you want to have sex with me, there’s no point asking me [about my privates]. Unless you want to discriminate against me, I don’t know why it would be an issue. Why would you treat someone differently? You’re gonna hold the door for me just because I have a vagina? It’s nice to hold the door for everyone.

 


HRC and NCLR File Brief Supporting Denial of Saks Fifth Avenue's Motion to Dismiss Trans Discrimination Lawsuit

Saks Fifth Avenue

In the ongoing case of Saks Fifth Avenue claiming that it has the right to discriminate against transgender employees, the Human Rights Campaign and National Center for Lesbian Rights have followed up the formal refutation of Saks' motion to dismiss the case by filing an amici curiae brief to further deny Saks' motion to dismiss. It is a dense and thorough read, but the heart of it is this:

JamalAmici agree with Plaintiff that SAKS’ motion to dismiss ignores a host of case law and the conclusions of the EEOC and Department of Justice, all of which firmly establish that harassment or discrimination against a transgender person, whether for having transitioned their sex or for not conforming to gender-based stereotypes, constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII. Therefore, taking all the factual allegations of the complaint as true, as the Court must at this stage, the motion to dismiss should be denied.

Saks has not made any response as of the writing of this post.

Read the brief below:


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