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Transgender former employee sues Starbucks for harassment and discrimination

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A former Starbucks supervisor has filed a lawsuit against the company and her former manager for harassment and discrimination.

In the lawsuit, Maddie Wade claims that after telling her superiors that she had started the process to transition for male to female, her hours were cut and she was taken out of consideration for a promotion. She claims that her manager at 6701 Milburn Avenue advised her that because of his strong religious views he could never accept the concept of a transgender person.

“Given Starbucks socially-progressive and forward-thinking public positions on gender equality, it’s troubling to see a situation that seems to starkly contrast with the broader messages of the company,” said Arnold Peter, attorney for Ms. Wade. “Clearly, in this case the company failed to protect a dedicated and hardworking employee when she was at her most vulnerable.”

The complaint includes various screenshots from some of the manager’s social media posts which contained messages about his positions on gender equality such as:

  • An image of John Wayne emblazoned with the statement: CUTTING OFF YOUR PECKER DOES NOT MAKE YOU A WOMAN…IT JUST MAKES YOU A GUY WHO CUT OFF HIS DAMN PECKER
  • Citing as “Leftist Logic” that “Men Can Be Women”
  • Deriding Bruce Jenner as someone who just wanted to “cross dress without being judged”
  • “Gender is not now, nor has it ever been a preference... Take your ‘purple penguins’ and shove it up your ass!”

“I loved my friends and colleagues at Starbucks and expected to have a long-term career with the company,” stated Ms. Wade. “It was humiliating to come to work every day and be treated with no dignity or respect. I never would have expected this kind of behavior from a fellow employee who failed to represent the culture and ethics that have come to embody Starbucks as a global brand.”

A spokesperson for Starbucks issued the following statement:

At Starbucks, we strive to create a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome and have zero tolerance for the harassment of our partners or customers. We encourage all of our partners to alert their local leadership the moment they feel uncomfortable or unsafe at work. In those instances where partners don’t want to speak with their manager or choose to remain anonymous, we have processes in place that allow them to provide details over phone, email or fax.

Here is the complaint filed that was filed in Fresno County.


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