Tag Archives: department store

Saks claims Title VII doesn’t apply to transgender employees

The Human Rights Campaign on Jan. 8 suspended Saks Fifth Avenue’s Corporate Equality Index score. The action was taken following Saks’ claims in response to a lawsuit that Title VII protections don’t apply to transgender employees and that the company is not legally bound by its own LGBT equality policies.

While HRC said in a news release that it honors the right of the company to defend itself against allegations of misconduct, the arguments made in Saks’ court filings go well beyond arguing the veracity of the allegations.

Leyth Jamal, a transgender former employee of Saks, filed an employment discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 alleging discrimination and harassment/hostile work environment based on her gender identity.

In a motion to dismiss the case and in contrast to clearly established positions of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Saks claimed that the “Plaintiff’s discrimination and harassment claims fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because transsexuals are not a protected class under Title VII.”

Additionally, Saks claims that it is not bound by its own corporate non-discrimination policies because “employee handbooks are not contracts as a matter of law.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded in 2012 that sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes discrimination based on gender identity. The decision makes clear that transgender people across the country who have experienced workplace discrimination can file a claim with the EEOC under existing federal sex discrimination law.

Likewise, in December 2014, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the U.S. Department of Justice will recognize transgender discrimination as sex discrimination.

“Saks’ arguments are hugely concerning to us,” said Deena Fidas, director of HRC’s Workplace Equality Program. “In its court filings, Saks attempts to secure a motion to dismiss Ms. Jamal’s allegations by simultaneously calling into question the validity of its own non-discrimination policy and the larger, crucial protections afforded by Title VII. The policies our CEI advances are not window dressings for any company to prop up or disregard in the face of individual allegations of misconduct. Saks is publicly undercutting  the applicability of its own policies reported in the CEI and we must suspend Saks’ CEI score until further notice.”

HRC has contacted Saks and asked them to clarify the two issues and amend their legal filings.

Target asks customers to leave firearms at home

The retail giant Target on July 2 asked customers to not bring firearms to its stores.

The announcement made on a company blog was from interim CEO John Mulligan, who has been the focus of a petition drive coordinated by a grassroots group of moms opposed to people carrying guns in a store where adult shoppers often are accompanied by children.

Mulligan’s statement said:

“The leadership team has been weighing a complex issue, and I want to be sure everyone understands our thoughts and ultimate decision.

“As you’ve likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit ‘open carry’ should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target — even in communities where it is permitted by law.

“We’ve listened carefully to the nuances of this debate and respect the protected rights of everyone involved. In return, we are asking for help in fulfilling our goal to create an atmosphere that is safe and inviting for our guests and team members.

“This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.”

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which collected nearly 400,000 signatures on a petition, applauded Target’s decision. The group said it “introduced the campaign after gun extremists carrying loaded assault rifles frequently gathered in Target stores to demonstrate in support of open carry laws.”

Editor’s note: This story is developing.


Humane Society: Kohl’s ‘faux fur’ handbags trimmed with real rabbit fur

Independent laboratory testing recently confirmed that accessories sold on Kohls.com as “faux fur” were actually made with real rabbit fur, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

The nonprofit, on Dec. 2, issued a consumer warning about the products, which apparently were no longer available on the retailer’s website on Dec. 3.

Investigators with the Humane Society found that several styles of  Nicole Lee Fabiola brand handbags, which were advertised as having “faux-fur” trimming on Kohls.com in October and November, were trimmed with animal fur. Lab testing determined the fur to be from a rabbit.

HSUS says that selling animal fur as “faux fur” on a handbag is a violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. That law prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in commerce and carries a civil penalty of up to $16,000 per violation.

Pierre Grzybowski, of the Fur-Free Campaign of The HSUS, said in a statement to the press, “Consumers should be aware that animal fur is still being sold as ‘faux’ by major retailers — in this case Kohl’s. We’re calling on Kohl’s to adopt a fur-free policy and more robust quality control program, and urging consumers to learn how to tell animal fur from fake fur so they can shop with confidence.”

According to the HSUS, more than 75 million animals, including rabbits, raccoon dogs, mink, bobcats, foxes and even domestic dogs and cats, are killed annually to make unnecessary fur products. 

In August, the FTC issued took enforcement action against Neiman Marcus, Revolveclothing.com and Drjays.com in response to 2011 petition from the HSUS alleging the selling of animal fur as “faux.”

Also, in March, an investigation by the Humane Society found that the Century 21 store in New York was selling a Marc Jacobs jacket as having “faux fur” but it had raccoon dog fur.

The Truth in Fur Labeling Act, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama, amended the Fur Products Labeling Act, closing a loophole that had allowed many fur-trimmed garments to go unlabeled if the value of the animal fur material was $150 or less.