When Aaron White began training for an operations manager position at a Georgia Chick-fil-A franchise in the summer of 2021, she assumed she would spend the next few weeks learning the ins and outs of the business. fast food before officially starting work.
But according to a new lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, since beginning her training White has been repeatedly subjected to degrading, racist and sexual comments from her co-workers – and the management refused to intervene. White, a transgender woman, was eventually fired from her job at the downtown fast-food chain Decatur under the guise of “lateness,” according to the filing.
White is now suing the owners and operators of the Chick-fil-A franchise, claiming his civil rights were violated and management’s inaction contributed to the “hostile” and “abusive” work environment. “Defendant failed to take reasonable steps to correct the situation or prevent the harassment from recurring after being notified by Plaintiff on numerous occasions,” the filing states. “As a direct result of Defendant’s actions and inactions, Plaintiff suffered emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary loss.”
The filing claims that on White’s first day of training, a co-worker immediately focused on her and made a series of offensive comments, including “I would eat your ass and pussy” and “On God, I fuck the shit out of you.” Those comments, according to the document, were made in the presence of both Chick-fil-A management and other employees. White says she reported the comments to a shift manager, who said “she didn’t feel comfortable dealing with the situation and advised [White] to contact franchise owner Joe Engert.
“[Engert] responded by saying it should be an honor that the plaintiff being a transgender woman, that someone loves her enough to hit on her,” White’s attorney wrote. Engert then said “he would look into the situation” but claimed “that if the harassment continues ‘they should focus more on the person claiming the harassment to see if there is a problem’.
After the meeting with Engert, White alleges that the same employee continued to harass her – this time doubling down on the offensive comments by targeting both White’s race and sexual orientation with comments such as “On God, I don’t am not with this gay shit”. and “Hell no, I’m going to beat that gay asshole.” The filing says the employee in question “was never reprimanded for his actions.”
Over time, according to the court document, other employees at the facility joined in the harassment. “Several employees began intentionally abusing the plaintiff and claimed they had an odor due to her taking hormones to help with their transition, when it turned out to be a faulty pipeline at defendant’s location,” the document reads. White reportedly raised her harassment concerns with management again in September 2021. She was fired shortly after.
“Because Plaintiff engaged in a protected activity, Defendant retaliated against Plaintiff, including, but not limited to, failing to investigate her allegations of harassment, failing to take measures to prevent further harassment and by terminating his employment,” the filing reads. White is seeking damages in the case, including lost wages.
Representatives for Chick-fil-A did not respond. rolling stonerequest for comment.