A Mississippi transgender woman is suing McDonald’s and local franchise owners for discrimination according to a Tuesday report in the Clarion Ledger.
McDonald’s franchise owners Elizabeth and Andrew Smith hired Joselyn Kelly to manage multiple McDonald’s locations in northern Mississippi on Jan. 4 with an anticipated start date of Jan. 8, according to court documents obtained by the Ledger.
On Jan. 7, the suit says, Kelly informed the Smiths that she is transgender. In response, Kelly alleges she became a victim of harassment and bigotry aimed at her gender identity.
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The suit lists multiple examples of the alleged discrimination:
- Refusing to address her by her preferred pronoun, calling her “he” or “him” rather than “she or “her”;
- Addressing her as “it” and using a slur;
- Stating that “transgenders” were an abomination;
- Mockingly calling her “Juwanna Man,” in reference to a 2002 film, in which a male athlete impersonates a female basketball player;
- Assigning menial tasks to her that were only done by entry-level employees
According to Kelly, the discrimination was so traumatizing, she was “forced to resign.”
After resigning, Kelly filed a charge of discrimination against the Smiths with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. On March 20, the EEOC issued a notice of Kelly’s right to sue. The suit was filed on Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, the Ledger reported.
Kelly is seeking compensatory damages, costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees and any other equitable relief the court deems appropriate, while also opting for a jury trial.
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According to the paper, neither the Smiths nor Kelly’s attorney, Charles Burchfield, or McDonald’s returned requests for comment on the lawsuit.
Litigation concerning transgender rights has flooded the U.S. court system in recent years.
In one high profile case, Colorado baker Jack Phillips was sued for his refusal to bake a cake celebrating a transgender transition. Phillips won that case after the Colorado Civil Rights Commission agreed to drop legal action.
Meanwhile, a fight over language usage rages alongside the legal battles waged by transgender activists. A debate over the use of transgender individuals’ preferred pronouns has been a fraught one, with many on the LGBT side accusing conservatives and so-called trans-exclusionary radical feminists of bigotry for their refusal to capitulate.
Earlier this year, world champion transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon responded to an op-ed by Martina Navratilova against letting transgender women compete against their biological counterparts by tweeting: “I am a biological woman.”
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