University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Blatt v. Cabela's Retail EE-PA-0248
Docket / Court 5:14-cv-04822-JLS ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Transgender Bathroom Access Cases
Case Summary
On August 15, 2014, a transgender woman from Pennsylvania filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff sued Cabela’s Retail, Inc., under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000(e) et seq., and the Americans with ... read more >
On August 15, 2014, a transgender woman from Pennsylvania filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff sued Cabela’s Retail, Inc., under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000(e) et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12101 et seq. (“ADA”). The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, sought damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees. She claimed that she has been harmed by the defendant’s discriminatory employment practices. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that due to her transgender status, she was harassed by her co-workers and subjected to hateful comments, was refused consideration for promotions and was forced to work alone in undesirable shifts. Although the plaintiff reported these incidents to higher ups in the company, it always fell on deaf ears. The Human Resources Director at the company would not even allow her to wear a name tag with her chosen female name or to use the women’s bathroom in the store. The plaintiff was eventually dismissed from her position, despite excellent job performance. The plaintiff argued that her bad treatment constituted sex discrimination, in violation of Title VII, and disability discrimination, in violation of the ADA. She further argued that 42 U.S.C. § 12211(b)--which excludes gender identity disorder from coverage by the ADA--is unconstitutional.

On October 22, 2014, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss but after the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, the court rejected the dismissal motion as moot.

On November 18, 2014, the defendant filed a new partial motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Subsequently, on February 10, 2015, the case was reassigned from Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl to Judge Joseph F. Leeson, Jr.

Meanwhile, on January 22, 2015 the plaintiff informed the United States that she was challenging the constitutionality of the Gender Identity Disorder ("GID") exclusion provision of the ADA. That provision excludes "transexualism...[and] gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairment" from the ADA definition of a disability. The United States responded with a Statement of Interest; it stated that the District Court should resolve the plaintiff's Title VII claims before addressing the constitutional challenge, because wherever possible, courts should seek to avoid adjudication of constitutional challenges. On February 23, 2015 six prominent LGBTQ advocacy organizations urged the court to invalidate the GID exclusion as unconstitutional or alternatively to find that gender dysphoria is outside the scope of the GID exclusion.

Judge Leeson was apparently unpersuaded by the U.S.'s constitutional avoidance argument; on September 21, 2015, he ordered the United States to file a supplemental statement of interest actually addressing the constitutionality of the ADA's GID exclusion. Finally, on November 16, 2015, the United States filed a second Statement of Interest which argued that the District Court should adopt the construction that gender dysphoria, because it has a physical cause, falls outside the scope of the GID exclusion provision, allowing gender dysphoria to be included under the ADA's definition of "disability". This construction again allowed the District Court to avoid addressing the constitutionality of the GID exclusion provision itself.

The last action on the case was on March 1, 2016, where magistrate judge Henry S. Perkin held a settlement conference, however the details of that conference are unavailable.

Matt Ramirez - 05/20/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Retailer
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Gender identity
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Retaliation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Cabela's Retail, Inc.
Plaintiff Description A transgender woman alleging gender identity discrimination by her employer.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
5:14-cv-04822-JFL (E.D. Pa.) 03/01/2016
EE-PA-0248-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint and Jury Demand 08/15/2014
EE-PA-0248-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint and Jury Demand 11/05/2014
EE-PA-0248-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Amici Curiae Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Mazzoni Center, Nat Center for Lesbian Rights, Nat Center for Transgender Equality, National LGBTQ Task Force, Transgender Law Center in Opposition to Defendant's Partial Motion to Dismiss 02/23/2015
EE-PA-0248-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of The United States of America 07/21/2015
EE-PA-0248-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Statement of Interest of the United States of America 11/16/2015
EE-PA-0248-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Leeson, Joseph F. Jr. (E.D. Pa.)
EE-PA-0248-9000
Perkin, Henry S. Court not on record
EE-PA-0248-9000
Schmehl, Jeffrey L. (E.D. Pa.)
EE-PA-0248-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barry, Kevin (Connecticut)
EE-PA-0248-0003 | EE-PA-0248-9000
Farrell, Brian (Pennsylvania)
EE-PA-0248-9000
Gold, Sidney L. (Pennsylvania)
EE-PA-0248-0001 | EE-PA-0248-0002 | EE-PA-0248-9000
Vanguri, Neelima (Pennsylvania)
EE-PA-0248-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Avila, Michael (Pennsylvania)
EE-PA-0248-9000
Guerette, Susan M. (Pennsylvania)
EE-PA-0248-9000
Kim, Christin (Pennsylvania)
EE-PA-0248-9000
Other Lawyers Nestler, Emily B. (District of Columbia)
EE-PA-0248-0004 | EE-PA-0248-0005 | EE-PA-0248-9000

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