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Saks Fifth Avenue
Saks Fifth AvenueDion Hinchcliffe via Flickr

Saks backtracks on discriminatory claim about trans rights

The department store attempted to argue that it was legally allowed to discriminate against a trans employee

Earlier this month, Saks caused global outrage when it attempted to legally discriminate against Leyth O Jamal, a former employee who happens to be trans. Jamal told a US court that she was fired for expressing her gender identity in the workplace and was asked by her bosses to act more masculine and forced to use the male toilets.

Jamal filed a discrimination lawsuit against Saks. Stuningly, Saks argued that it was legally entitled to discriminate against her, claiming that trans people are not protected by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Saks was then widely lambasted by trans rights campaigners and you know, people who understand the concept of fairness. After a shitstorm of bad PR, Saks has now dropped their line of defence and is looking for alternative ways to mount a case against Jamal.

Lawyers for Saks said: "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."

It's undoubtedly good news that Saks has realised the error of its ways, but the sudden about-face feels more like a forced apology than anything else. And even if Saks didn't discriminate against Jamal as an employee, it's pretty clear that it did attempt to do so in court. You know, what with trying to say that she had no legal rights and all.