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Transgender Teen Files Complaint Against McDonald's

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By Minara El-Rahman on December 09, 2009 8:55 AM

The BBC reports that a transgender teen who has gone from male to female over the course of six years has filed an employment discrimination complaint against McDonald's with the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Ms. Zikerria Bellamy claims that the popular fast food chain denied her employment on the grounds that she is transgender.

She also claims that one of the managers from this particular chain left her a message that referred to her with a gay slur. The New York-based Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), which filed the complaint on Bellamy's behalf, posted a recording of the message on YouTube. You can listen to the voicemail here (warning, contains the aforementioned gay slur). Please keep in mind that this voicemail was posted by Ms. Zikerria's attorneys and has not been verified by news outlets at the moment.

Ms. Zikerria claims that she applied for a job at the Orlando, Florida chain online but when she came into the store for an interview, the managers refused to interview her. She also claims that when one of the managers saw her come into the restaurant with a suit on, the manager laughed at her.

The New York Times quoted a statement released by McDonald's spokesperson Ms. Allison Garrett who wrote that the manager who left that message ''acted outside the scope of his authority and was not responsible for hiring.''

About 47 percent of trans people report being fired, or denied a job or promotion, because of their trans status, according to the TLDEF.

The New York Times reports that Florida law does not have any laws that specifically protect transgender individuals. There are actually no federal laws that specifically address transgender individuals from workplace discrimination either. Proposed legislation that would specifically protect transgender individuals may be considered next year by Congress.

In the meantime, Mr. Bellamy could be able to state a viable claim under the Florida's Civil Rights Act under sex and disability discrimination.

The Competitive Workforce Bill introduced in the Florida legislature on November 20th would offer additional protection. It would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the Florida Civil Rights Act.

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