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LGBT Discrimination And Family Employers

A former employee is suing McDonald's and the franchise owner for sexual harassment and discrimination based on her transgender status.

The plaintiff alleges that she suffered "extreme sexual harassment and disparate treatment," including having her genitals groped, being called a "boy-slash-girl," and being forced to use a separate bathroom that was used as a storage closet.

After she reported the harassment to the manager, she alleges that management cut her hours and eventually terminated her in retaliation. Curtis M. Wong "Trans Employee Sues McDonald's For 'Extreme Sexual Harassment,' Discrimination," (Jun. 17, 2017). 

Commentary and Checklist

Family employers must make sure their supervisory staff is trained to provide discrimination and harassment protections for every staff member, no matter that person’s gender identification or sexual orientation.

Supervisory staff should be vigilant for signs that a staff member is the target of jokes or other disrespectful treatment. Immediately address any slurs, jokes, or comments that could lead to a hostile work environment if left unchecked.

Make sure staff and managers understand that harassing or discriminating against another staff member will lead to disciplinary action, including possible termination.

Here are some additional best practices for family employers to help prevent transgender discrimination and harassment:

  • Know the law. States and municipalities have different laws regarding transgender rights. Enlist the assistance of legal counsel before making changes to policies.
  • Implement anti-discrimination policies that address gender identity and gender expression issues.
  • Train your managers and supervisors on the law and your anti-discrimination policies addressing gender identity and gender expression issues. Provide diversity and sensitivity training and discuss scenarios that address transgender issues.
  • Harassment and discrimination are often the result of ignorance. Consider providing diversity courses for your staff on transgender issues.
  • Review your handbook, especially your dress code, to make sure that it does not discriminate against transgender employees. Permit employees to comply with the dress codes in an appropriate manner consistent with their gender identity and gender expression.
  • Provide gender-neutral bathrooms.
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