Monday, May 24, 2010

Macy’s Sued by Transgender Employee for Harassment and Discrimination

LOS ANGELES –Jason “Jazz” Araquel, 21, a Filipino-American, has filed a lawsuit against Macy’s Inc. in the Los Angeles Superior Court for wrongful termination and various gender-related grievances during her three years working in the cosmetics department.  According to Araquel’s attorneys, the plaintiff is a pre-operative male-to-female transgender individual whose sexual status was known to store management at the time she was initially employed in a part-time capacity in November 2006. She subsequently became a full-time employee in March 2008 and worked there until Sept. 1, 2009, when she was terminated.

The causes of action cited in the lawsuit include: Gender identity discrimination, gender identity harassment, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, retaliation for opposing discrimination/harassment in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The lawsuit seeks general and punitive damages and compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of dignity, legal costs, and attorney’s fees.

Araquel alleges that she was repeatedly subjected to “unfair treatment and humiliation.” Araquel’s complaints include not obtaining full-time work until threatening a lawsuit;  ongoing verbal abuse; exclusion from the women’s restroom; work assignments which were not part of her duties; being held to a stricter standard than other employees; and constant ridicule from both management and other employees.

Araquel was ultimately terminated by Macy’s for alleged insubordination and use of foul language. Araquel alleges, however, that she was terminated in retaliation for her numerous complaints to management about harassment and discrimination.

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