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The rainbow flag flies above Starbucks headquarters in Seattle
A former Starbucks employee is suing the company for unlimited damages, claiming she suffered harassment and discrimination after coming out as a trans woman.
Maddie Wade alleges in the complaint, filed in Fresno Superior Court, that manager Dustin Guthrie reduced her hours and discriminated against her after disclosing that she was planning to start hormone therapy and facial surgery.
This included constant misgendering and deadnaming, calling her ‘Matt’, ‘brother’, and ‘man’.
Wade said in a statement: ‘I loved my friends and colleagues at Starbucks and expected to have a long-term career with the company.
‘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.’
She is seeking general damages, special damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees. She claims that before coming out, Gutherie offered to take her ‘under his wing’ and promised to promote her to assistant manager. During both their time at the coffee store, it rose from one of Starbucks’ bottom three locations to top three.
However, after Wade revealed she was transitioning, things are said to have taken a turn. It’s reported that Gutherie said his religious views stopped him from understanding her experience as a transgender woman. The manager frequently posted political, religious, and moral viewpoints across social media.
The lawsuit contains one meme that is a photo of John Wayne with the words: ‘CUTTING OFF YOUR PECKER DOES NOT MAKE YOU A WOMAN. IT JUST MAKES YOU A GUY THAT CUT OFF HIS DAMN PECKER.’
Claims of constant misgendering and deadnaming
She also states that despite telling Gutherie she hoped to work similar hours so she could cover the medical expenses of her transition, her hours were subsequently cut.
After Wade requested a transfer to another store, customers demeaned her further by calling her ‘sir’ and ‘man’. Wade claims the manager there ‘dismissively laughed about it’.
A gender therapist advised her to resign from the job because the toxic workplace was affecting her mental and physical health.
Throughout all of this, Wade states that her relationship with the other employees remained friendly.
We have reached out to Starbucks for comment.