When Zikerria Bellamy applied to work at an Orlando, Fla. McDonald’s, she was hoping to earn some extra cash to help support herself. But for the 17-year-old transgender woman, that never became a reality.
After a manager discovered that Bellamy was a transgender person, he left a voicemail message saying: "You will not get hired.” “We do not hire fa**ots." He also declined to interview her, according to a press release from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the organization representing Bellamy.
Bellamy was stunned.
“When I first got it, I told my mom ‘this is not right, something has to be done about this’,” Bellamy told CBS 6 Orlando. “I just wanted to earn to some money and was willing to work hard at this job. In the current economy, jobs are really hard to find. I never expected to be judged on who I am, instead of being judged on whether I can do the job," said Bellamy.
Employment discrimination remains a major problem for many LGBT people in the United States. And with no federal protections barring employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, an “average work day” for many LGBT people can be very difficult.
"Americans should have the chance to earn a living and provide for their families without being refused a job or fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their ability to do the job," Michael Silverman, executive director of the TLDEF, who is representing Bellamy, said in a press release.
"Zikerria should not have been denied a job just because she is transgender. Like everyone else, she deserved to be judged on her ability to do the job and not on who she is,” he continued.
While the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)—a federal law that would prohibit employee discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity—continues to wend through Congress, it remains legal in 29 states to fire people based on sexual orientation. It is legal in 38 states to fire people based on gender identity remains legal.
GLAAD along with 19 other national organizations have called on Congress to immediately pass the legislation but there has been little to no traction on the issue.
And while the TLDEF has filed an employment discrimination complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations on behalf of Bellamy, Florida remains one of the many states that does not protect its transgender employees and residents.
GLAAD helped shape TLDEF’s press release and media prepped Bellamy extensively before her appearance on the local newscast. We also continue to pitch her story widely and anticipate future coverage in the Associated Press and on CBS The Early Show.