Toys 'R' Us Discrimination Award Blames the Victims
[NEW YORK, NY] - The decision of the jury to award one dollar in damages to each of three transsexual women for the discrimination and abuse they suffered at the hands of employees in a Toys R Us store is an insult to the value of human life and dignity.
The jury's ruling that Toys R Us did nothing to enforce its own standards of employee conduct when Donna McGrath, Tanya Jinks and Tara Lopez were victimized by bat wielding workers inside one of its stores was a simple finding of fact. Awarding "nominal damages" to the victims sends the message that when the victims are transsexual, there are no consequences for allowing such abuse to go unchecked.
NYAGRA Board Member Andrea Sears said, "By telling the jury that, given what they look like, comments get passed on the 'rough and tumble streets of New York' the Toys R Us attorneys blamed the victims for the abuse they suffered. And the jury apparently bought that argument. "The 'nominal damages' awarded the victims echo the original award in the wrongful death suit brought against the Richardson County, Kansas Sheriff?s Department for failing to protect trans-hate murder victim Brandon Teena. In that decision a paltry settlement was based in part on the idea that by being transsexual Brandon Teena had contributed to his own death.
Melissa Sklarz, New York's first transsexual elected official, said, "Transgender life is worth more than one dollar. Now is the time for New York to take the lives of all transgender and transsexual people seriously. The passing of INT 24 shows that the courts, the legal and political systems stand with transgender people shoulder to shoulder and say no to oppression and discrimination."
NYAGRA has been at the forefront of the fight for transgender and transsexual civil rights in New York City. We made significant progress with the passage of the Transgender Civil Rights bill in the city and inclusion in Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act (SONDA) has now become an issue in the state legislature. But the battle for recognition of our civil rights must go beyond the legislative sphere. Employers, service providers, business and the public need to know that our lives have value and that all people are entitled to respect and basic human rights.