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Macy's allegedly fires longtime employee over transgender bathroom incident

Macy's says its customers are permitted to use the restroom that suits their gender identity.
Macy's says its customers are permitted to use the restroom that suits their gender identity.
Charles Krupa, AP

A Macy's store detective who worked for the retail chain for more than 26 years has filed a religious discrimination complaint, alleging that he was unfairly terminated after questioning the store's transgender bathroom policy.

Javier Chavez, who is a Roman Catholic, recently filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights after his nearly three-decade career came to an end, according to conservative commentator Todd Starnes.

Chavez was hired in 1990 to work as a guard at the door of a Macy's store in Flushing, Queens, and was reportedly eventually promoted to senior detective.

That all purportedly came to an end, though, after he recently questioned why a biological male who identified as a female was using the women's bathroom.

The situation apparently unfolded back in May after a female customer and her daughter expressed concern over the fact that the transgender individual was using the ladies' bathroom, Starnes reported.

So, a security guard who worked under Chavez asked the transgender person to leave the bathroom, with that individual — who said that he believed he was a woman — proceeding to complain to a manager at Macy's.

Later, Chavez said that the store informed him that its transgender policy allows for people to use the bathroom that comports with their gender identities, though he said that he was not previously aware of that policy.

The store detective proceeded to voice his personal concern. And while Chavez said that he never pledged not to enforce the policy, he did tell an assistant manager that he believed it violated his religious beliefs.

"I advised her that this was against my religion and contrary to the Bible," he said in the complaint. "I also mentioned that I would not like my young daughters to be in the bathroom with a male inside."

According to Life Site, though, he told his employer that he would abide by the policy, despite disagreeing with its sentiments.

What followed was a suspension and a termination — one that he believes was due to his religious worldview, and one that he argues was in violation of New York State Human Rights Law.

Starnes said that Macy's declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but said that employees must "at all times treat fellow employees and customers in a non-discriminatory and respectful manner."

Calls and emails to Macy's representatives seeking comment have not yet been returned to the Deseret News.

This isn't the first time that Macy's has landed in the headlines over this issue, though, with a Texas store reportedly firing an employee in 2011 who wouldn't allow a biological male who identified as a female to use a women's dressing room.

"I had to just be straightforward and tell him, 'You're a man,' and of course that … really got him steamed," ex-Macy's employee Natalie Johnson said at the time.

After reportedly being fired for refusing to comply with a purported company policy that allowed for people to use bathrooms that comport with their gender identities, Johnson told the media that she didn't regret her decision.

"There are no transgenders in the world. A guy can dress up as a woman all he wants," Johnson told KSAT-TV. "That's still not going to make you a woman. If you're a man going into the women's fitting room, I will kindly escort you to the men's fitting room."

As Deseret News previously reported, Target has been more overt about its transgender bathroom policy, which allows employees and shoppers to use the restroom that matches their gender identity.

It's a policy that has sparked a swift backlash, with conservative activists fervently speaking out against the retail chain.

Email: bhallowell@deseretnews.com, Twitter: billyhallowell, Facebook: facebook.com/billyhallowell