Former Chick-fil-A employee suing a Georgia franchise, accusing the vendor of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
The employee, a transgender woman named Aaron White, worked at the downtown Decatur Chick-fil-A location for just over two months in 2021 before being fired, per the suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
White said she was ‘constantly sexually harassed and faced homophobic comments’.
The suit alleges that the defendant, franchise owner Joe Enger, did not take “reasonable steps to correct the situation or prevent the harassment from recurring after being notified by Plaintiff on numerous occasions.”
On her first day of training to be director of operations for the franchise, during August 2021, White said she was targeted by another employee who made a string of inappropriate, sexual comments towards her.
Another trainee, Sammy Canady, allegedly harassed White by saying in front of others, “I would eat your ass and pu**y”, “On God, I will fu*k the sh*t out of you”, “I’ll buck that horse” and “I’ll ride that horse till it buck.”
When she reported the comments to the store’s owner, he told her “that it should be an honor that with (her) being a transgender woman that someone liked her enough to hit on her,” according to court documents obtained by WAGA-TV.
The employee said that following her report being shut down, the same team member continued to harass her, making numerous homophobic comments while the two were on shift together.
Other employees at the Chick-fil-A began to join in on the comments and continued harassment, according to filings.
“Several employees began to intentionally misgender (her) and claimed that they had an odour due to her taking hormones to aid in their transition, when it was proven to be a faulty pipeline at the Defendant’s location,” the suit says.
Amid the continued harassment, the restaurant failed to address any of the employee’s concerns despite filing multiple complaints, she said.
Eventually, in November 2021, she had her contract terminated for being late and walking out of a shift, according to the suit.
However, she said other employees had been tardy and had not been fired. She also said she was approved to leave. Instead, she alleges that she was fired because of her gender identity.
The lawsuit states, “As a direct result of the Defendant’s actions and inactions, Plaintiff has suffered emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses.”
Despite its powerhouse US high-street status in the fast-food market, Chick-fil-A – along with its billionaire owner Dan Cathy – have an indisputably terrible reputation when it comes to LGBTQ+ support.
Both the company and its owner have a long-standing history of supporting and donating to charities with anti-LGBTQ stances.
Chick-fil-A’s public front is that of a company with Christian values focused on families and all venues nationwide are closed on Sunday.
After facing backlash in 2019, Cathy and the company vowed to change their ways, but then popped up in the news in 2021 when Cathy was identified as a donor to the National Christian Charitable Foundation, which has a history of funding opposition to The Equality Act.
In 2021, during Pride month, fast-food competitor Burger King’s US arm ran a campaign, which many at the time acknowledged for being pointed towards Chick-fil-A, by including that it would continue its donations to LGBTQ+ charities “even on Sundays,” when some restaurant are closed.
Meanwhile, in 2022, Burger King, Austria faced a bit of backlash – for which the advertising company responsible later apologised – by selling their flame grilled signature burgers with either two tops of a bun or two bottoms, to signify “with two matching buns for equal love and equal rights”. LGBTs on social media found the campaign to be a bit… offensive, to say the least.