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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. Various LGBT advocacy groups filed an amici statement in support of this construction that found gender dysphoria outside the GID exclusion. Oral argument on the issue was held on December 9, 2015.

On May 18, 2017, Judge Leeson denied the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiff's ADA claims, in an opinion marking the first time the court ruled that transgender people are not categorically barred from seeking relief from discrimination under the ADA. 2017 WL 2178123. Judge Leeson did not rule on the constitutionality of the GID exclusion from ADA coverage, but adopted a narrow interpretation of the term gender identity disorders to "refer to only the condition of identifying with a different gender, not to encompass (and therefore exclude from ADA protection) a condition like Blatt's gender dysphoria, which goes beyond merely identifying with a different gender and is characterized by clinically significant stress and other impairments that may be disabling."

Judge Leeson found that Blatt's gender dysphoria was therefore not excluded from ADA coverage, and that Blatt had plausibly alleged the elements of an ADA retaliation claim: 1) she suffered from a disabling condition under the ADA, not encompassed in the GID exclusion; 2) she engaged in protected activity by reporting discrimination and requesting accommodations for disability; 3) she was subjected to a "pattern of antagonism" as a result of this activity, including Cabela's allegedly intentional and repeated refusal to provide her with a correct name tag.

The defendant filed an answer to the plaintiff's amended complaint on August 1, 2017. The parties scheduled a mediation with former Judge Annette Rizzo on September 11, 2017. Magistrate Judge Henry S. Perkin dismissed the case on September 18, 2017 because the parties reached an undisclosed settlement. The court retained jurisdiction over the case for 90 days thereafter. The case is now closed.

Matt Ramirez - 05/20/2016
Sarah McDonald - 03/25/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
disability, unspecified
Accommodation / Leave
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Gender identity
Sex discrimination
Disparate Treatment
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.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filed 08/15/2014
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Dear Colleague Letter [rescinding prior letters relating to bathroom access for trans students]
U.S. Department of Education
Date: Feb. 22, 2017
By: Sandra Battle & T.E. Wheeler (U.S. Department of Education)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students
Date: May 13, 2016
By: Catherine E. Lhamon and Vanita Gupta (U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students
Date: May 2016
By: United States Department of Education
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
E.D. Pa.
EE-PA-0248-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Pa.
Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 1]
EE-PA-0248-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Pa.
First Amended Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 9]
EE-PA-0248-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Pa.
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 [ECF# 33]
EE-PA-0248-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Pa.
Statement of Interest of The United States of America [ECF# 50]
EE-PA-0248-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Pa.
Second Statement of Interest of the United States of America [ECF# 67]
EE-PA-0248-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Pa.
Opinion [ECF# 82] (2017 WL 2178123)
EE-PA-0248-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Pa.
Order [ECF# 95]
EE-PA-0248-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Leeson, Joseph F. Jr. (E.D. Pa.) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0248-0006 | EE-PA-0248-9000
Perkin, Henry S. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
EE-PA-0248-0007 | EE-PA-0248-9000
Schmehl, Jeffrey L. (E.D. Pa.) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barry, Kevin (Connecticut) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0248-0003 | EE-PA-0248-9000
Farrell, Brian (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
Gold, Sidney L. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0248-0001 | EE-PA-0248-0002 | EE-PA-0248-9000
Vanguri, Neelima (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Avila, Michael (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
Guerette, Susan M. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
Kim, Christin (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Nestler, Emily B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0248-0004 | EE-PA-0248-0005 | EE-PA-0248-9000

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