Aaron White was training as director of operations at a Decatur, Ga. Chick-fil-A when she was subjected to homophobic comments and sexual harassment that resulted in her termination, according to a lawsuit.
White, who identifies as a woman, alleges that on her first day of training, a fellow employee sexually harassed her with lewd and inappropriate comments. She then went to her shift leader who told her to bring the issue up with the franchise owner, Joe Engert. When White went to Engert and informed him she was transgender, “The Franchise Owner responded by saying that it should be an honor that with Plaintiff being a transgender woman that someone liked her enough to hit on her,” according to the suit.
Engert then spoke with the alleged harasser and after that, the comments became homophobic, the suit claims. Word then spread across the store that White was transgender and more people at the store began to taunt her with homophobic comments. Several employees began to misgender White.
White is alleging false termination as well by the defendant, Engert. Engert terminated her allegedly for tardiness and for abruptly walking off her shift. White alleges that other people of her level were tardy and had not been fired, and that the time she left her shift early had been allowed. She claims that she was fired due to her sexual orientation.
The suit alleges that the defendant did not take “reasonable steps to correct the situation or prevent the harassment from recurring after being notified by Plaintiff on numerous occasions.”
It also alleges that Engert violated Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or origin.
White is asking for punitive damages, general damages for emotional and mental suffering, damages for lost wages and attorney’s fees as well as a trial by jury.
This lawsuit was filed on June 29.