A trans woman is suing a Michigan McDonald’s restaurant after she allegedly received extreme discrimination by her managers while she was employed there, which she said included the managers groping her genitals and forcing her to use a toilet in a broom closet.
La’Ray Reed, 25, worked at a McDonald’s in Redford, Michigan for six months beginning in April 2015, BuzzFeed reported. Reed filed the lawsuit against McDonald’s and Jon Campbell, the owner of the franchise where she was employed, last month.
The lawsuit, which BuzzFeed published in its entirety, alleges that shortly after Reed was hired by the franchise, a coworker asked her if she was “a top or bottom” and “a boy or girl.” Reed told the coworker that these comments were offensive, but reportedly continued to hear employees wondering about the size of her genitals and talking about having sex with her.
At one point, Reed claimed, her female manager told all the employees through their headsets that “You can’t feel it from the front, you have to feel it from the back.” At this point, another female employee allegedly grabbed Reed from behind and groped her genitals.
Reed also would be routinely clocked out before she was done working, sent home early from shifts, and discouraged from interacting with customers, the suit alleges.
The suit claims that one time, when she was working at the drive-through window, her manager shouted at her “boy-slash-girl, step off drive-through!” She was never assigned to work the drive-through window again by that manager, according to the court documents.
At the start of her employment, Reed regularly used the women’s bathroom, until a coworker spied on her while she was in a stall using the toilet, the suit claims. After this, her manager “directed her to clean a filthy, unused bathroom” that was used as a broom closet in the back of the store, the suit says. After this, Reed was allegedly no longer allowed to use either the men’s or the women’s bathrooms.
Reed was fired shortly after she reported experiencing discrimination in her workplace, she said. While she was trying to figure out what caused the firing, one of her managers passed her and said “You think I don’t know what you are because of how you dress and look?”
“As a direct and proximate result of the sexual harassment, disparate treatment based on her sex, and retaliation, Ms. Reed suffered severe mental and emotional trauma and emotional distress, causing her to contemplate suicide and require treatment,” the suit says.
This discrimination fits into a wider pattern of sexual harassment at McDonald’s, according to activists with the Fight for $15, which has been supporting Reed’s suit and other similar complaints across the country as part of its campaign to improve conditions and pay at fast food restaurants.
"The growing number of allegations suggests a failure by McDonald’s to enforce the zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment outlined in its Operations and Training and Policies for Franchisees manuals," Fight for $15 representatives told BuzzFeed.
A McDonald's spokesperson told the Detroit Free Press, "As a company, we are committed to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald's restaurants and discrimination of any kind is completely inconsistent with our values. As this is an ongoing legal matter involving an independent owner operator, we cannot comment further."
The lawsuit comes just days before McDonald's announced a new LGBTQ pride month promotion, "Lovin' is Lovin'," where they will be serving raindbow-themed boxes at select Washington, D.C. and San Francisco stores.