City of Boise settles federal gender discrimination lawsuit with former library employee

The City of Boise settled a federal discrimination lawsuit with Jax Perez, a former library employee who said they were harassed and discriminated against because they are non-binary and transgender.

Perez filed a lawsuit against the city, former library director and other library and city employees in U.S. District Court in Boise last summer. Perez, who uses they/them pronouns, was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In a news release Friday, the city said it settled the case after both parties “evaluated the merits of the case and the resources required for extensive litigation.” The Idaho Statesman has asked the city for the settlement amount but has not yet received an answer.

“The city’s policies and practice continue to make the equitable treatment of employees a priority,” the statement said. “This settlement is an affirmation of that commitment.”

In June 2019, Perez, who worked at the Hillcrest Library branch, said then-Library Director Kevin Booe took action to have them fired after a hostile library patron objected to a Pride display Perez organized at the library. The patron “insulted and dehumanized” Perez, the lawsuit said.

Jax Perez
Jax Perez

Perez reported the harassment in an email to their supervisor, saying they were “extremely shaken up and scared.” Booe got a copy of the email, the Idaho Statesman previously reported. The lawsuit said that instead of supporting Perez, he told Perez’s supervisor to have an “exit strategy” for Perez prepared by 9 a.m. the next morning, the Statesman reported.

Less than a week later, Perez received a “Notice of Intent to Discipline.” The notice criticized their interactions with the patron days earlier and comments they made from their personal Facebook page about a library Pride event that they shared to a neighborhood Facebook group. According to the lawsuit, Perez was commenting on derogatory comments on the library event. Perez received a formal written warning on July 16, 2019, the Statesman reported.

In October 2019, Perez filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Idaho Human Rights Commission, alleging sex discrimination and retaliation, the Statesman reported. On April 30, 2020, the Human Rights Commission found that Perez was indeed sexually harassed and discriminated against while working at the library.

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