High-end retailer Saks Fifth Avenue has
withdrawn a filing in which it asserted that transgender workers are
not protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The case involves former employee Lyeth
Jamal, who was fired from a Texas store in 2012.
Saks lawyers asked for the case to be
dismissed, arguing that discrimination against transgender people is
not “a case of action” – not illegal – under Title VII.
According to BuzzFeed,
Saks reversed course shortly after the Justice Department weighed in
on the case.
“In its Motion, SAKS maintains that
Ms. Jamal cannot prevail on a Title VII sex discrimination claim that
is based on her gender identity, particularly her transgender
status,” Justice Department lawyers wrote. “Not so.
Discrimination against an individual based on gender identity is
discrimination because of sex.”
Late last year, Attorney General Eric
Holder issued a memo stating that the federal government's position
is that “sex” under Title VII includes discrimination “because
an employee's gender identification is of a particular sex, or
because the employee is transitioning, or has transitioned to another
Saks said in its filing that it was
“confident” it would prevail in court.
“[T]he 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,” Saks argued.