The City of Boise and Jax Perez, a former Boise Public Library employee, who is transgender with a nonbinary gender identity and who uses they/them pronouns, have settled Perez’s federal employment discrimination lawsuit. Perez initially filed a charge of discrimination with the Idaho Human Rights Commission in 2020, after the City issued them a formal employment warning. The discipline warned Perez that it had been inappropriate for them to “make known” to a patron that they were a member of the LGBTQ community during Pride Month, June 2019. Perez later filed a federal lawsuit based, in part, on similar facts in June 2021.
“I hope this settlement will make the library and the City’s other spaces and workplaces safer and more inclusive for so many people who are still marginalized in our community," said Perez. "No employee anywhere should have to suppress their identity and conform to sex stereotypes to keep their job.”
“It took a long time for the City to come to the table, despite the uniquely favorable decision we got from the Idaho Human Rights Commission," said ACLU of Idaho Legal Director Aadika Singh. "We are glad to have this case resolved, with a sizable monetary settlement for our client who can now move on with their life. And we hope the City goes far beyond installing Pride flags, and better comports its future policies and programs with its purported commitment to affirming LGBTQ+ people."
The laswsuit, called Perez v. City of Boise, stems from a 2019 incident when Perez was an employee of Boise Public Library. On June 19, while Perez was working at the Hillcrest branch of the library, a patron approached them at the front desk and tossed Pride Flag pin buttons onto the desk, calling them a “vice.” The library made the button pins available during Pride Month. The patron told Perez that he did not want his kids exposed to them. Perez responded that as a member of the LGBTQ community, they were sorry he felt that way.
According to the complaint, the next day, this patron returned to the Hillcrest branch and sat staring at Perez “in a sinister way” for 10-15 minutes. This caused Perez to go to a back room because they feared for their safety. The interaction led the Hillcrest branch to remove the Pride flag pins from the library. On June 24, Perez received a “Notice of Intent to Discipline” letter from their supervisor stating that it was inappropriate for Perez to “make known” to a library patron their identity as a member of the LGBTQ community. The letter warned that Perez must “refrain from engaging in conduct that is the same or similar” immediately and said failure to do so could lead to further discipline, including by termination.