Trans woman accuses fast food restaurant that employed her of gender discrimination

She denounces remarks and pressure, but the lawyer for the franchised McDonald’s restaurant refuted any discrimination or harassment before the Angers industrial tribunal.


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The Mc Donald's logo on January 10, 2024. (MAGALI COHEN / HANS LUCAS / AFP)

Her employer refused to use her feminine first name and criticized her for wearing too much makeup. A young trans woman who worked in a McDonald’s franchise restaurant asked the Angers industrial tribunal on Monday April 15 to recognize that she had been the victim of “gender discrimination” and harassment. The industrial tribunal must deliver its judgment on June 24. She also contacted the labor inspectorate and filed a criminal complaint.

It was as a man, and under the male first name given to him at birth, that Syntia was hired in September 2022 by this McDonald’s, located around forty kilometers from Angers. She was in gender transition at the time but still a man for civil status, which is no longer the case today.

Summoned to “a reframing interview”

At the beginning of January 2023, late after a medical appointment, she decided to go straight to work wearing feminine clothes, fake breasts and makeup, explaining that she felt a certain “kindness” from his company and his colleagues. But very quickly, Syntia said she was the target of comments and pressure.

At the end of January 2023, she is summoned to “a reframing interview” during which she was called by her male first name and asked to stop wearing makeup, her lawyer, Gwénola Vaubois, told the hearing. “We ask her to tone down her makeup, not remove it”under internal regulations which prescribe “for everyone” A “light and discreet makeup”reacted the restaurant’s lawyer, Pascal Landais.

“Awkward reactions but no discrimination”

In the days that followed, Syntia managers did everything to prevent the use of her new female first name, banning it by posting in the restaurant and calling to order in writing two colleagues who had adopted it. According to Gwénola Vaubois, the employer will even invoke a law from 1794 which would never have been repealed. Refusing to remove her makeup, Syntia will no longer be allowed to return to her workstation.

She has been on sick leave since March 2023 and was the subject of a warning from her employer which has since been lifted. The 21-year-old young woman is demanding the termination of her employment contract, a total of 30,000 euros in damages as well as compensation for eight months of work stoppage which were not covered by Social Security ( a little less than 20,000 euros). “There may have been awkward reactions but no discrimination or harassment.” argued Pascal Landais, rejecting all requests.

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