TLDEF Files Employment Discrimination Complaint Against McDonald's


December 7, 2009 - TLDEF today filed a Complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations against an Orlando McDonald's restaurant for refusing to hire 17-year-old Zikerria Bellamy because she is transgender.

On July 10, 2009, Zikerria applied online for a position as a Shift Manager or Crew Leader at McDonald's.  On July 28, after managers at McDonald’s learned that Zikerria is transgender, she received the following voicemail message from one of the managers:

Zikerria never received the job interview she sought.  McDonald's refused to hire her.

Zikerria’s story is all too common.  Transgender people face tremendous discrimination in the workplace.  According to a recent survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, 47% of transgender people report being fired, or denied a job or promotion, just because of who they are.

Few protections exist for transgender people who experience employment discrimination.  In 38 states, there is no law protecting transgender people from being fired because of who they are.  Federal law similarly offers no job protection for transgender people.

In Florida, while no law explicitly addresses discrimination based on gender identity, administrative agencies in Florida have ruled that transgender people are protected by the Florida Human Rights Act’s prohibitions on sex and disability discrimination.  The Competitive Workforce Bill, which would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the Florida Civil Rights Act, was introduced in the Florida legislature on November 20.

At the federal level, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) (S.1584) would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote an employee based on the person’s gender identity or sexual orientation at companies with fifteen or more employees.  The legislation was introduced in the United States Senate on August 5, 2009.  On November 5, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held the Senate’s first hearing on the latest version of ENDA.  A version of ENDA was also introduced in the United States House of Representatives on June 24, 2009.  The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on the measure on September 23.  Little has happened since.

According to a 2007 survey, 72 percent of Americans agree that "fairness is a basic American value and employment decisions should be based solely on qualifications and job performance, including for transgender people."  In a 2002 poll, 61 percent of those polled said that we need laws to protect transgender people from discrimination.  President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and has stated his belief that anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

What You Can Do

SPREAD THE WORD

As you've done in the past, please help us spread the word about what happened to Zikerria.  Let's do our best to make sure it never happens again.  Post the voicemail on Facebook, tweet about it, write about it in your blogs and embed the voicemail there, too.  The louder we raise our voices, the more people will listen!

CONTACT CONGRESS AND DEMAND THAT IT TAKE ACTION ON ENDA

We've joined with our friends and partners at organizations around the nation to demand that Congress take swift action to pass the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA).  In light of continuing delays in the House of Representatives, we must state clearly and unequivocally:  Passing basic job protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people must happen now.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask to speak to your Representative (have your zip code handy and they'll help identify your member of Congress).

When you are connected with your Representative's office, give your name and your city and then let them know:

I am calling in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H. R. 3017/S. 1584), which will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from job discrimination. No one deserves to be fired from their job because of who they are. No more delays--it is time to pass ENDA.

You can also tell them that you've heard about Zikerria Bellamy's case.  If you get voicemail instead of a person, leave a message - they count just as much as if you reach a staff member. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If you've called in the past, no problem.  Call again.

SUPPORT EQUAL RIGHTS

McDonald's is one of the largest corporations in the world.  To say that its resources dwarf ours is an epic understatement.  We can't win this alone.  We need your help to do it.  Please donate now to help us win this fight for equal rights.  Your support continues to inspire us.  Thank you!

STAY INFORMED

For updates on Zikerria's case, stay tuned to our website, sign up for our mailing list, and follow us on Twitter.