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McDonald’s Sued By Transgender Former Employee For Sexual Discrimination

Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr.

La’Ray Reed, a transgender woman and former McDonald’s crew member, is suing her old employer for severe workplace discrimination and sexual harassment she suffered at work and was allegedly fired for reporting it.

In the lawsuit, which was obtained by Buzzfeed, Ms. Reed documents a plethora of traumatizing experiences she suffered while working at a McDonald’s in Redford, Michigan. These egregious accounts range in severity from inappropriate comments and taunts to being restricted to back-of-house roles and clocked out by management before her shifts ended, and even being groped by a coworker per instructions from a manager.

The most appalling of these allegations, however, is that Ms. Reed was barred from using either the men’s or women’s restroom. Instead, a manager ordered her to clean up a “filthy, unused bathroom that served as a broom closet in the back of the store” and was required to only use that bathroom from that point forward.

When Ms. Reed attempted to report the incidents to the franchise’s owner, it resulted in a conference call between her, the owner, and a store manager who decried all of the complaints as false. Shortly after that conference call, Ms. Reed was fired in a possible retaliation move by store management.

Afterward, Ms. Reed had to undergo treatment for “severe mental and emotional trauma,” and even considered suicide. Thus, she’s seeking reparations from McDonald’s and the franchise owner for the economic and mental damage she incurred as a result of the sexual harassment, sexual assault, and discrimination she endured on the job.

Our current political climate makes it less likely McDonald’s will be held responsible in this lawsuit.  While the Obama administration issued a guidance that suggested companies like McDonald’s should be jointly responsible for working conditions and pay at its franchised locations, the Trump administration formally withdrew that guidance this past week. This means that McDonald’s could argue its way out of the lawsuit by claiming it can’t be held responsible for the working conditions Ms. Reed endured. If they were successful, the franchise owner would have to deal with the full consequences of the lawsuit and McDonald’s would get off scot-free.

We’ll be keeping tabs on this litigation to see if McDonald’s has to pay Ms. Reed or not when everything is resolved.

By Constantine Spyrou

Constantine's life revolves around eating, studying, and talking about food. He's obsessed with eggs, gyros, and the future of food.