McDonald’s Worker Says Abuse Began When Bosses Learned She Was Trans

Joselyn Kelly was hired in January 2019 to be a supervisor for McDonald’s restaurants across northern Mississippi. The day before she started work, she told her bosses — franchise owners Elizabeth and Andrew Smith — that she is transgender, the Clarion Ledger reports.

Unfortunately, that honest admission kicked off harassment from the Smiths “either directly or through their other employees,” according to a lawsuit now filed against McDonald’s and the franchise owners.

The lawsuit, which Kelly filed after resigning over the alleged abuse from her bosses and co-workers, lays out all the ways she says she was mistreated, the Clarion Ledger reports.

Kelly says she was referred to as “it,” along with other vulgar slurs. She was told that “transgenders” are an abomination. And she was called “Juwanna Man,” in reference to a male film character who impersonates a woman. She also says she was forced into doing entry-level menial labor not typically associated with her supervisory position.

All this was too much for Kelly, forcing her to resign. She then filed a discrimination charge against the Smiths with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was granted a right to sue.

There has not yet been a comment from McDonald’s or the Smiths, so all the information we have comes from Kelly’s lawsuit. Assuming everything Kelly describes in her lawsuit is accurate, this is a heartbreaking story of a trans employee being pushed out of a job.

According to Out And Equal, 10% of all LGBTQ+ people have left a job because of an “unwelcoming” environment. And 27% of trans people have been “fired, not hired, or denied a promotion” due to their gender identity.

This lack of upward mobility is a serious epidemic in the LGBTQ+ community. Housing and employment discrimination can force people into homelessness. In fact, numbers from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council suggest that 1 in 5 trans people may face homelessness in their lives.

That’s why it’s so egregious that McDonald’s — as an international corporation — has failed to respond to this alarming lawsuit. If the discriminatory testimony in Kelly’s filling is accurate, then McDonald’s employees are actively discriminating against trans people — which is bad enough. But they’re also forcing them out of work and into precarious financial straits.

We should expect better.


Will you join us in calling on McDonald’s to stand up for trans workers and publicly respond to these charges of discrimination? McDonald’s needs to explain how it will hold franchises accountable and ensure all LGBTQ+ workers are treated equally. Will you stand up for Joselyn Kelly and other trans workers by signing today?

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You‘ll find Care2‘s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

Photo credit: Infrogmation/Wikimedia Commons


Janis K
Janis K4 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

Pietro M
Pietro Maiorana5 days ago

Io non vado al Mc....

Liliana Garcia
Liliana G6 days ago

Signed. True, Trump and his allies have set back the clock a little or a lot but think about how the beauty norms coupled with the abuse of technology such as social media have led to bullying and a relentless pressure on those who do not meet the so called beauty standards. In essence the heterosexual norm is imposed through the same means of body shaming as beauty norms which fulfill both capitalist interests because people will spend money endlessly to approximate the norm and the need to ventilate deep seated frustration and rage in many people with a very low self esteem.

Gene J
Gene Jacobson6 days ago

For those blaming the victim for divulging this information. It would be bound to come out in something as simple as using the restroom, or observation from other staff. She did what she felt she had to, blaming her is not part of the solution here.

Gene J
Gene Jacobson6 days ago

Every year we learn more about people who are born transgender, who live their lives feeling they were born in the wrong body, whose orientation is other than the ONLY orientation most people will accept. But we also learn these are loving, caring, giving people only asking to be accepted for who they are, not what others think they should be. The discrimination perpetrated by religion, the world over, and blind prejudice is beyond ignorant, it is unlawfully harmful. If we are ever to be a civilized world, we must evolve past the superstitions and prejudices of our horribly ugly past. The Platinum Rule is the only law we have ever needed and we DO need it: Treat others as they would have you treat them. Simple as that. As loving as that. This is happening everywhere, every moment of every day to children as young as 2 all the way to the end of age. We need be so much better than we are.

Paul Carter
Paul Carter6 days ago

Some people are just scared brainless of any thing or any person they don't perceive as "normal". That is anything that doesn't conform with their narrow little bubble of experience. To "protect" themselves they feel the need to humiliate and denigrate whatever frightens them. Education might help them but how do you do that without making them even more afraid I just don't know.

Callie R
Callie R6 days ago


Laura R
Laura R6 days ago

Thank you.

Diane E
Diane E6 days ago

So discriminatory. This is the 21st century. Please respect people for themselves. This outdated prejudice must end.

Lisa M
Lisa M6 days ago