In a sudden reversal, New York-based Saks Fifth Avenue has elected to settle a sex discrimination complaint filed by a transgender employee at the company’s store in Houston.
According to the employee’s EEOC complaint, managers kept insisting she use the men’s bathroom and present a more masculine appearance. Saks fired her upon learning she had filed the complaint.
The luxury retailer initially announced it would defend the case on its merits, taking the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act did not cover sexual identity discrimination. But former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last December that the Justice Department took the opposite view and the EEOC had adopted the same position months earlier.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent the company a letter questioning its anti-discrimination policies in New York. The government pressure and bad publicity eventually led Saks to decide to settle. Settlement terms were not disclosed.