BY Erica Pearson
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, May 12th 2010, 9:04 AM
It just got a little easier for a transgender person to work at American Eagle Outfitters – at least on paper.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has forced the flannel and khaki outpost to make some changes, including nixing a rule about employee “personal appearance” that banned men from wearing women’s clothing and ladies from dressing as guys.
“This shows me that there’s faith and hope. There might be a domino effect, that’s what I’m hoping for,” said Joi-elle White, 35, a transgender member of Make the Road New York.
The community group complained to Cuomo’s office about what it called a pattern of discrimination against transgender job hunters. A probe confirmed the complaints, officials said.
The retailer – which employs more than 2,000 people in its 61 New York stores – signed a settlement deal promising to change its policies and employee handbook.
“To avoid further expense and the distraction of a prolonged argument, [we have] agreed to a compromise settlement in this case, with the understanding that AEO is not admitting to the findings,” a company spokeswoman said.
“We wholeheartedly believe that transgender individuals should be treated equally,” she added in a statement.
The chain store also has agreed to train its staff on transgender issues – like which pronouns to use when referring to workers and customers.
The April settlement is the first crackdown against a retailer under the section of the state’s Human Rights Law that bars employers from discriminating against applicants because of their gender identity.
“If more places would follow behind American Eagle’s experience, a lot of us would be able to work more. and there would be less of us on the street or on the Internet risking our life just to survive,” White said.