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Saks store defends against employment discrimination claim

A discrimination claim of any sort can be complicated and involve situations that may be murky and not as cut and dry as other similar cases may be. One recent case of alleged employment discrimination is gaining notoriety due to the fact that an ex-employee of the well-known department store Saks & Co. is suing for discrimination based on her transgender status. In Colorado, any employee who feels they have been targeted under any scope of discrimination may be interested in following the case.

The transgender Saks employee contends that she was discriminated against, as she was told to act more masculine. She claims that she was told to keep her work life and home life separate. She also claims that she was then terminated when she spoke up about the hostility in the workplace.

Saks takes the stand that the ex-employee is not part of a protected class as defined by the 1964 Civil Rights Act that effectively bans such discrimination -- claiming that transsexuals are not part of those classes -- and it has filed motions to dismiss the claim of discrimination. The ex-employee also cites the fact that representatives for Saks refer to the woman's gender with [sic] in legal paperwork. This denotes an error in the writing. The store will not directly comment on pending legal action.

The federal government has taken up the complicated issue of gender identity and the workplace. However, any act to ban this form of employment discrimination specifically has stalled for the time being and is not explicitly defined in the statutes; however, others argue that it fits under gender discrimination in general. Anyone in Colorado who feels that they have experienced discrimination of this form or any other may want to follow any changes in federal laws concerning discrimination.

Source: businessweek.com, "Saks & Co. in Legal Fight Over Transgender Former Employee", Josh Eidelson, Jan. 9, 2015

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