Alex Blaze

Transgender teen called "faggot" sues McDonald's

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 09, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, Florida, labor, McCruelty, McDonalds, orlando, transgender, transphobia

Zikerria mccruelty.jpgBellamy, with the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, is suing McDeath after she was rejected from a job there. The manager left a message on her machine saying that he doesn't hire "faggots." Good for her:

A lawsuit filed at the Florida Commission on Human Relations alleges she was twice rejected from interviews and was laughed at by one manager when she was wearing a suit.

The alleged incidents took place in July this year.

In a statement, Bellamy said: "I just wanted to earn to some money and was willing to work hard at this job. In the current economy, jobs are really hard to find. I never expected to be judged on who I am, instead of being judged on whether I can do the job."

The TLDEF estimates that 47 per cent of trans people report being fired, or denied a job or promotion, because of their trans status.

McDonald's, on its part, is hanging the manager out to dry and saying that it is simply shocked that someone would sully their good name with discrimination:

A statement released by the restaurant, which is on International Drive, said: "The behaviour of the individual in question is not reflective of the employment policies in the organisation. Further, this individual acted outside the scope of his authority and was not responsible for hiring. The individual in question is no longer employed by the restaurant."

It added that all employees are required to abide by state anti-discrimination laws.

So they're not taking any responsibility for anything. Surprise.

I hope the case against MacDo turns out well for Bellamy. 47% of transgender people report being discriminated against at the workplace, and I'm sure corporate America had an excuse in each of the millions of instances of job discrimination. It was a manager acting out of line. The person in question suddenly stopped performing their job properly. Being transgender creates a distraction at the workplace. We're just downsizing.

Considering how hard it is to get a job discrimination suit through the court system and actually win (they're much harder than other types of lawsuits with all the roadblocks set up to deny people a fair shot at proving they were discriminated against), usually the joke is that you can't win a discrimination suit unless you have a letter saying "We fired you because you're X." Well, Bellamy actually got that message, and not just told to her but also recorded on her machine, and she still has an uphill battle.

But, hey, it's the manager. Can't find good help these days, you know what I'm saying? The problem with having a system where those who actually have the power to change things in a workplace live thousands of miles away from said workplace, where the people who would normally be expected to take responsibility for a businesses actions live in lofty towers and don't deal with the clunky reality of their actual product, is that when there is a problem, they'll just scapegoat someone on the lower rungs and continue with business as usual, as if nothing happened. And that's not OK.

The discrimination that occurred here could not be more obvious, and yet I'm still skeptical that Bellamy will get any sort of relief for the indignities and discrimination she suffered, or even get the job she wanted in the end (now she's just proved that she's not the type to fall in line...).

Still, I wish her and the TLDEF luck.


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when I clicked on the article to open it, I got a pop-up message from McD offering me a discount. I don't think this is exactly what they planned with their targeted marketing campaign.

Haha, all I'm getting is online gambling and 50 euro AUTHENTIC American visas. The google ads are country specific, and I guess Mcdonalds didn't buy up any out here.

"A statement released by the restaurant, which is on International Drive, said: "The behaviour of the individual in question is not reflective of the employment policies in the organisation. Further, this individual acted outside the scope of his authority and was not responsible for hiring. The individual in question is no longer employed by the restaurant."

It added that all employees are required to abide by state anti-discrimination laws."
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Sadly - the action is taking more responsibility than most corps. do. While I'm happy there was a consequence for such outrageous conduct by their manager - there was no comment about their having a corporate policy against discriminating against lgbt people & no commitment to train their staff to insure this doesn't occur. Every action that happens in a restuarant like this is addressed in their manuals - this should be as well.

And - abiding to state law? Don't extend yourself too much there! Just do the minimum. Oh - and what about local laws.

Again - enda needs to be passed. And it should include public accomadation. Because she could have just as easily been a customer who received this kind of treatment.

Hold on, Alex. What would you ahve the corporation do? How many franchises do they have reporting to them? How large is this business?

McDonalds said they were totally against any kind of discrimination- that it was unacceptable. There are no longs, as we well know, that protect those workers. it's up the the company to do that.

should they have mandatory training sessions? yes, I believe so. should the policy be writeen more clearly, specifically addressing transgender folks? yes, I believe that to be true, too. (working on it!)

I have to say, I'm not sure how far a training would go for someone who felt comfortable calling someone a faggot on the phone. but it's a start.

we gotta reward the good behavior or these companies, and demand more inclusive language. because as we know, once all the fortune 500 embraces gender identity and expression? it's not going to take much to pass ENDA with the same.

because politicians are gutless weasels who will wait until it's pretty much already done before taking any action.

How many franchises do they have reporting to them? How large is this business?

That's the very problem here. They're so big they're unaccountable for the terrible things they do. It doesn't let them off the hook, per se. But you're right, it does mean that what's bigger here is mobilizing against the laws that make space for businesses like McDonald's to exist.

we gotta reward the good behavior or these companies, and demand more inclusive language. because as we know, once all the fortune 500 embraces gender identity and expression? it's not going to take much to pass ENDA with the same.

I don't know. It's easy to have a nondiscrimination policy within a corporation. Just type it up and HRC will give you a few points for it. But to actually abide by it? I think that's why so many of the objections at the ENDA hearings focused on the enforcement aspects of the bill, like the attorney's fees. It's OK for corporations like McDonald's to have all sorts of antidiscrimination policies as long as they're unenforced/unenforceable.

And this isn't the first time a McDonald's manager got out of hand when faced with a trans person. Remember this horific beating (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMavVtXbL4I)?

Also, I find it odd that her name is all over the media and the manager is only referred to as "the manager" or as in the letter above "the individual." If this really is a case of a random individual who decided to perpetrate harassment on their time off, then it should be treated as such. His name should be all over the papers and her name should be confidential (unless she consents otherwise).

The fact that McDonald's is still protecting their manager by not naming him is very telling indeed.

battybattybats battybattybats | December 10, 2009 10:14 AM

Sheesh that video was hard to watch, not just because of the horrible event described but the disgraceful and insulting way the video treats the subject.

I consider this progress. McDonald's could have backed the manager, and chose not to.

Also, keep in mind that a lawsuit would cost McDonald's a lot of money. Even if Zikerria doesn't win, McDonald's will end up paying lots of money in attorney fees.

It sounds to me like McDonald's understands this potential hit to their bottom line. It is cheaper for them to fire the manager than to fight this. Money talks.

I don't expect McDonald's to admit wrongdoing. Companies don't do that unless they have to. Also, by admitting wrongdoing, it opens them up to more liability.

However, I expect that behind the scenes, people are taking steps to make sure that the company doesn't get sued because of bigotted employees. And that is progress.

I like the way you think. I wish I still had hope. Thanks for commenting.

And I find it interesting how the name of a minor (still only 17) is all over this story but the manager's name wasn't. Agree it's going to be hard for Ms. Bellamy to get anything out of McDonald's, although they might settle to avoid negative publicity and keep it out of court. Yes, Ms. Bellamy did get the "smoking gun"--the voicemail message--which the vast majority of trans people don't get when they are discriminated against in hiring. Usually it's a hollow smile and "we'll call you if anything opens up" (and a lot of mean jokes once the trans person leaves the office). This is one of the few types of cases where ENDA can have an actual influence on hiring or, more realistically, how the person ISN'T hired. If anything, I suspect the McDonald's corporate HR department is more angry about the nitwit manager leaving the voice mail than whether he did or didn't hire her because of who she is.

Tobi? did you know that the VP of New Business in the corporation is a transgender woman?

I'm not saying McDonalds doesn't have work to do, but it isn't evil, either. they aren't naming the manager because they'll get sued AGAIN.

I'm not saying McDonalds doesn't have work to do, but it isn't evil, either.

I think this is where we disagree. A company that profits off the mass suffering, torture, and cruel killing of animals (I wouldn't criticize them if they found humane ways to keep and slaughter animals), that profits from increasing obesity all over the world by getting people addicted to their terrible food and marketing their poison to children, that profits from the destruction of local culture and restaurants wherever it moves in, that does whatever it can to not pay its workers a living wage to make a few more bucks off them, that's destructive to the environment, the economy, our culture, and our very well-being, both physical and spiritual.... Well, that's at least the definition of amorality. Personally, I'd call that evil.

they aren't naming the manager because they'll get sued AGAIN.

Probably true.

listen, the reason the SRI investment company I work with doesn't own McDonalds is because of their product.

it's horrible.

but the company itself, by and large, really does try to be a good community citizen and I gotta say, it's a concept most companies DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

I don't eat there. It's disgusting. but they do have great french fries- Julia Child was a big fan. (of the french fries- that's it.)

Regan DuCasse | December 9, 2009 2:56 PM

This is an example of when a manager can be more of a liability than the perception that a transperson will be.
How often do we hear the excuse for NOT hiring a woman/black/gay person is fear of future litigation?

Yet, the unspoken truth is that there are ways of preventing litigation, yet diversity while also maintaining workplace standards for everyone.

This is where orientation meetings and training comes in to educate an employee on what's expected of them. Not only how they treat potential and current employees, but also CUSTOMERS who are diverse as well.
Name calling and abuse would be unacceptable no matter WHAT side of the counter someone was standing on.

Why should this be a problem?
I wish conservatives would get a clue about the value of good old fashioned CLASS and MANNERS, instead of criticizing those who have been abused and gotten isolated for discrimination behind their backs.
The wage gap is still VERY severe between minorities in this country and not for the reasons a less compassionate and experienced person likes to assume.

That alone would save a ton in litigation wouldn't it?

Sara, do you have a link or a source for your info about a transwoman being the VP for New Business? I understand her name isn't being released, but I'd like to know where you heard this?

sure,

Lori Fox

http://outandequal.org/advisory-committees#Fox

she's the chair of the board of out and equal. this links to her bio.

Sara, thanks for mentioning Ms. Fox. However, she isn't currently connected to McDonald's nor is it clear from bios of her I've read that she was a Human Resources Director post her transition. She is currently employed by Diversity Matters, Inc. as Director of New Business Development, not for McDonald's.

And, just my opinion but, yecch, I can't even stand the fries!

About all the name stuff, Bellamy's name was released when the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund put out a press release and a YouTube video with the audio of the message. That came from her end.

The manager's name will have to be released by someone other than McDonald's, because they're not going to make this into a bigger story than it is by dragging him into the limelight. Unless Bellamy knows it (she might), it's not going to get out.

Just my $.02.

Plus, you can't reveal the name of an employee being disciplined. I thought we all know that from dealing with HR departments. How often have you heard "We can't disclose about an employees employment," etc. They said the employee was fired - which is more than a lot of places do.

Does McDonald's suck? Yes. But they did the right thing and should be commended for it in this case. This isn't about whether or not they assist in animal abuse, destroy rainforests, or have a shitty product; it's about whether or not they protected a non-employee from an employee. They did.

I wonder though - you know they offered her a job most likely. Would you take it? I wouldn't.

This isn't about whether or not they assist in animal abuse, destroy rainforests, or have a shitty product; it's about whether or not they protected a non-employee from an employee. They did.

It never was about those other things - I was just disagreeing with Sara's statement that McDonald's is not evil. And she apparently agrees (see her response).

But, seriously, this is enough? They scapegoat someone, release no information about what went wrong, take no responsibility for what happened, and we're supposed to be happy that they killed off mom and pop and therefore any means of accountability on workplace issues by moving into every nook and cranny in america? No way.

They stamp their golden arches on everything they own, including their own employees. They want to own his soul while he's on the clock for them, fine. But then they've got to take responsibility for what he does while in his official capacity for them.

Either he's a cog in their machine or he's not. And 99% of the time they believe everyone who works for them is, so we can't let them off the hook the 1% of the time when it's inconvenient for them.

So McDonald's fires the manager and releases a statement reaffirming the commitment to diversity (which according to others exists is not mere lip service). What more needs to be done? Oh yeah, pay big bucks to someone, because that is the American Way. And we wondered why we got stuck with a shitty tort reform law.

If I were McDonald's attorney, I would tell them to immediately offer her a job, and give her some pay to make up for the days of pay she would have got had she been hired on the spot. She won't take it, because she has people like you telling her to sue, but it sure would eliminate just about any damage she suffered (she can only claim so much emotional distress, since the reason this became such a big deal is her publicizing the issue).

I am all about preventing discrimination of this type, but McD's seems to be doing the right things so far. I know this doesn't fit in with your other beefs (pardon the pun)that you cite above, but at least you were honest enough to admit it isn't only about this case.

twinkie 1 cat | December 10, 2009 11:21 AM

McDonalds is generally pretty good with diversity in hiring. I have seen any number of obviously gay people working at them even in the South. They are also good for hiring people with disabilites. I think this was a problem at a particular store.

As for obedience to state non-discrimination laws, this could be a problem since few states have them. The company was copping out and should have firmly said that it is their policy not to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to the HRC Equality Index (which, if anything, tends to grant companies far more inclusiveness than they actually are) as of 2009 McDonald's does NOT include gender identity or expression as protected aspects of their diversity policies (and, of course, the HRC gives them a score of 85 anyway!?). There are lots of companies which have gay employees which don't have out-trans employees (and many, many more which offer no form of trans-related health benefits), so don't combine the two as if they're somehow linked.

According to the HRC Equality Index (which, if anything, tends to grant companies far more inclusiveness than they actually are) as of 2009 McDonald's does NOT include gender identity or expression as protected aspects of their diversity policies (and, of course, the HRC gives them a score of 85 anyway!?). There are lots of companies which have gay employees which don't have out-trans employees (and many, many more which offer no form of trans-related health benefits), so don't combine the two as if they're somehow linked.