NEWS  RELEASE  

 
From  the  Law  Office  of  Jillian  T.  Weiss,  P.C.  and  Katine  &  Nechman,  LLP  
 
For  media  inquiries,  email  dawnennis@gmail.com  or  call  914-­‐924-­‐5430  
 
FOR  IMMEDIATE  RELEASE,  FRIDAY,  JANUARY  2,  2015:  
 
SAKS  &  CO.  DENIES  TEXAS  TRANS  WOMAN’S  CLAIM  
OF    DISCRIMINATION  WHILE  TOUTING  “EXCELLENT  
FIRST  YEAR  RANKING”  ON  HRC  CORPORATE  
EQUALITY  INDEX;  ALLEGES  SHE  MUST  ENDURE  
DISCRIMINATION…  BECAUSE  SHE’S    TRANS!  
 
When  LEYTH  O.  JAMAL  worked  as  a  saleswoman  for  Saks  Fifth  Avenue  in  the  Houston  area,  she  was  
harassed   and   belittled   by   co-­‐workers,   forced   to   use   the   men’s   restroom,   and   withstood   intentional  
and  repeated  use  of  incorrect  male  pronouns  by  her  coworkers,  all  for  being  who  she  is:  a  woman.  
Ultimately,  she  was  fired.    
 
The   United   States   Equal   Employment   Opportunity   Commission,   the   federal   agency   tasked   with  
enforcing  Title  VII  of  the  Civil  Rights  Act  of  1964,  which  protects  workers  based  on  their  sex,  issued  a  
finding   that   there   was   reasonable   cause   to   believe   that   Ms.   Jamal   had   been   exposed   to   a   hostile   work  
environment.    
 
Now,   more   than   two   years   later,   lawyers   for   the   upscale   department   store   have   responded   to   her  
claim  of  workplace  discrimination  with  a  motion  to  dismiss,  stating  that  because  Ms.  Jamal  is  trans  
she   is   not   protected   from   discrimination   and   therefore   she   cannot   sue,   and   should   pay   the   store’s  
legal  bills.  To  add  insult  to  injury,  Saks’  attorneys  misgendered  Ms.  Jamal  throughout  their  motion.  
 
In  Monday’s  filing,  Saks’  attorneys  repeatedly  cited  Title  VII.  Ironically,  their  filing  comes  just  eleven  
days  after  U.S.  Attorney  General  Eric  Holder  announced  the  U.S.  Department  of  Justice  believes  that  
Title  VII  protects  trans  government  workers  in  discrimination  cases  and  will  take  appropriate  legal  
action   to   enforce   that   protection.   Holder’s   directive   falls   in   line   with   a   binding   decision   issued   two  
years   ago   by   the   Equal   Employment   Opportunity   Commission,   in   an   unrelated   case,   finding   that  
transgender  workers  are  protected  by  the  law.  
 
Ms.  Jamal’s  attorney,  Jillian  T.  Weiss,  says  that  Saks  is  essentially  claiming  that  “transgender  people  
shouldn’t   have   protection   from   discrimination   in   the   workplace.”   Ms.   Weiss   says   that   position   is  
ironic   given   that   Saks   has   recently   lauded   itself   for   paving   the   way   for   trans   equality   in   the  
workplace.  As  Ms.  Weiss  points  out,  “Saks  is  touting  its  high  score  on  the  Human  Rights  Campaign's  
Corporate   Equality   Index,   including   its   gender   identity   protections,   and   then   arguing   that   its   trans  
employees  aren't  entitled  to  expect  it  to  deliver  on  that  promise.”  The  Human  Rights  Campaign  is  the  
nation’s  largest  LGBT  advocacy  group.  Saks  hailed  its  “excellent  first-­‐year  ranking”  almost  one  year  
ago,   after   achieving   a   score   of   90   out   of   a   possible   100   for   its   same-­‐sex   partner   benefits   coverage,  
gender  identity  protections,  and  other  steps  toward  LGBT  inclusion.  In  its  news  release  of  January  21,  
2014,   Saks   congratulated   itself   on   its   “culture   of   LGBT   inclusion   company-­‐wide   which   includes  
celebrating  LGBT  Pride  month  and  raising  overall  awareness  through  internal  and  vendor  sponsored  
events.”    
 
Jamal  says  that  wasn’t  her  experience  at  all  when  she  worked  at  Saks.  “I  just  wanted  to  do  my  job,  but  
I   was   met   with   resistance   at   every   step   of   the   way.”   She   filed   suit   on   September   30,   2014   in   the  
United   States   District   Court   for   the   Southern   District   of   Texas,   Houston   Division   for   wrongful  
termination   based   on   gender   in   violation   of   Title   VII   of   the   federal   Civil   Rights   Act   of   1964,   hostile  
work  environment,  retaliation,  and  breach  of  contract.  Jamal  is  seeking  unspecified  damages.      
 
FOR   FURTHER   INFORMATION,   TO   CONTACT   ATTORNEY   JILLIAN   T.   WEISS,   ATTORNEY   MITCHELL  
KATINE   OR   PLAINTIFF   LEYTH   JAMAL,   call   Dawn   Ennis   at   914-­‐924-­‐5430   or   email  
dawnennis@gmail.com