McDonald’s Manager Fired After Expletive-Riddled Call

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday December 9, 2009

The McDonald's manager who left a trans teen a voice message declaring that the restaurant would not offer employment to "faggots" has been fired, according to a statement from the McDonald's in question, which is located in Orlando, Florida.

"Sand Lake Road McDonald's has a strict policy prohibiting any form of discrimination or harassment in hiring, termination, or any other aspect of employment in the organization," the restaurant's Dec. 7 statement said, according to a Dec. 7 article posted at ClickOrlando. "The restaurant requires all employees to comply with local, state and federal employment laws."

The manager in question reportedly called Zikerria Bellamy, a transgender 17-year-old who had applied online for a position last July. The online application included a question about the applicant's gender, but text on the form said that applicants who did not choose to check off "male" or "female" would not be "subject[ed] to adverse treatment."

However, when Bellamy went to the restaurant in person to speak with a manager, he insisted that she complete that section of the application. When Bellamy checked "male," she said, "He was upset. I seen the anger, you know, like you can tell when someone gets upset."

Later that day, the manager reportedly phoned Bellamy and left a voice message in which he said, "You will not get hired. We do not hire faggots." The message continued, "You lied to me. You told me you was a woman."

The restaurant's statement denounced the voice message's content. "The behavior of the individual in question is not reflective of the employment policies in the organization," the statement said. "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."

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations on Monday on Bellamy's behalf. Michael Silverman, executive director of the New York-based TLDEF, said McDonald's violated the Florida Civil Rights Act. He added he feels the complaint should serve as a "wake-up call" on employment discrimination against trans people. It is currently legal in Florida and 37 other states to fire or not hire an employee because of their gender identity.

"It is legal to fire someone in these states just because they are transgender no matter how hard they're willing to work or how qualified for a job they are," Silverman said. "There is a tremendous amount of discrimination that continues to happen against the transgender community."

"Times are hard and if you have a job opening, you shouldn't select based on gender or who someone is," Bellamy told EDGE. "I just wanted to go in and make an honest living and provide for myself. Something like this doesn't need to happen. I don't want McDonald's to get away with this."

Bellamy told Local 6 News that she was "angry" and "hurt" at having been berated. "You shouldn't judge someone based on who they are," the teen added.

At present, the state of Florida does not protect GLBT people from housing, workplace, or public accommodation discrimination, although text at the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund Web site informs readers that, "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," the text adds. Moreover, the city of Orlando is contemplating adding trans protections to its municipal laws regarding discrimination.

"We can't have people losing their jobs because they're transgender or gay, in addition to those losing their jobs because of the economy--this is an economic issue, not a social one," Silverman said. "Transgender and gay employees who just want to support themselves and their families deserve the opportunity to do so and should be protected from this kind of discrimination."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.