Friday, April 03, 2015

Forever 21 Hit With Trans Discrimination Lawsuit

Another retail outlet is hopefully about to find out that discrimination aimed at trans people is unacceptable and costs you money.

Former Forever 21 employee Alexia Daskalakis filed a discrimination lawsuit Wednesday after enduring transphobic commentary that she was a “hot mess” and “disgusting,” that she looked “offensive,” and that “in my eyes and in the company’s eyes, you’re still a male.”

Daskalakis was hired by Forever 21 in May 2011 as a sales associate at their Brooklyn store and was quickly promoted to visual merchandiser, a job that made her responsible for setting up the store's visual displays.

In January 2014 she began her transition, and that's when she alleges in the lawsuit that the harassment and discrimination began.

In August 2014 she began taking hormones, and the transphobic  insults from male supervisors escalated.   Over the next few months, male supervisors insulted her and subjected her to bias because of her transgender identity, the lawsuit says. In one instance, a store manager told Daskalakis that her clothing choice of jeans, a crop top, and leather jacket was inappropriate and that she needed to change even though other female employees were wearing the same thing.

She was also told according to the lawsuit, “The male dress code is different from the female dress code and you’re still a male until you change your birth certificate,” the manager said, before sending Daskalakis home for the remainder of the workday, according to the complaint. In another instance, the same manager told Daskalakis, “You used to be a hard worker when you were a guy, but not anymore.” The store fired Daskalakis in January.

“[Forever 21] has discriminated against [Daskalakis] on the basis of her gender, gender expression, gender identity and/or failure to conform to gender stereotypes in violation of the [New York State Human Rights Law] by denying [her] the same terms and conditions of employment available to other employees, up to and including the termination of her employment,” the lawsuit says.

This also comes in the wake of Saks & Company last month settling a discrimination lawsuit filed by Leyth Jamal after she was discriminated against at a Houston Saks store in December 2012. 

It also follows a recent announcement by US Attorney General Eric Holder that the Department of Justice will interpret the sex prohibition of Title VII in the 1964 Civil Rights Act as applicable to transgender people.

This also glaringly points out why GENDA needs to be passed without delay in New York State.

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