February 12, 2020 at 12:46 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Lesbian files discrimination complaint against DC Burger King
Ingrid, a 19-year-old lesbian from D.C., has filed an anti-gay discrimination complaint against the Burger King where she works. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A lesbian who works at a D.C. Burger King says her manager harassed her because of her sexual orientation.

Ingrid, who asked the Washington Blade not to publish her last name, filed a complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights last Dec. 23.

The complaint notes Ingrid, 19, began to work at the Burger King on Connecticut Avenue near the University of the District of Columbia on Aug. 24, 2019. Ingrid in her complaint states her manager “found out about my sexual orientation in September of 2019” and “began to harass me by making inappropriate comments about my protected class.”

“I work as a cashier and every time a female customer approached me to place an order, she would come from behind and whisper to my ear, ‘Do you like that woman?'” wrote Ingrid.

Ingrid said her manager “did this” to her more than half a dozen times from late September until early last month.

“On several occasions, I told her to stop bothering me, but she ignored my requests,” wrote Ingrid in her complaint.

Ingrid says her manager on Nov. 11, 2019, “approached me and stated, in front of other coworkers” if she was “falling in love with” a female colleague.

“She made me feel like just because I’m a lesbian I cannot talk to other girls,” Ingrid told the Washington Blade on Monday during an interview in Adams Morgan.

Ingrid in her complaint notes she “filed a written and verbal complaint of discrimination” with the store manager and the district manager. Ingrid notes “no action was taken against” her manager and “the harassment continued.”

Ingrid in her complaint wrote her manager two days later “asked me, in front of other employees, ‘Who is the ‘man’ in your relationship with your girlfriend?'” Ingrid told the Blade her manager made the comment in front of a group of male construction workers.

“I felt so ashamed because they started to laugh and I didn’t feel comfortable,” said Ingrid, who added she did not feel safe. “I told her that I didn’t feel comfortable and she didn’t say anything.”

Ingrid in her complaint wrote the harassment continued, even though she “reported this incident” to the store manager.

“My manager continued to make comments whenever a female customer approached me at the counter,” wrote Ingrid.

Ingrid wrote her manager on Dec. 3 “yelled at me in front of other employees” after she incorrectly placed a customer’s order. Ingrid said she filed another complaint with the district manager on Dec. 6, but “no action was taken.”  

The complaint notes one of Ingrid’s coworkers on Dec. 7 “informed me that everybody knew about my complaint” because her manager “told them.” Ingrid wrote her manager on Dec. 8 “yelled at me, in front of other employees.”

“If money is missing from the cash register, you would have to pay for that,” said her manager, according to Ingrid. “You are not special.”

Ingrid said she reported the incident to her manager’s supervisor, “but no corrective action was taken.”

Ingrid in her complaint writes the district manager on Dec. 14 “promised me” her manager “would not work with me anymore.” Ingrid wrote the district manager three days later told her he had given her manager a verbal warning and “again also promised me that I would not work with her anymore.”

The complaint notes the district manager on Dec. 21 “told me, in front of” her manager that, “You are going to work with her, okay. You are not going to open the cashier register without” her permission” and “you need to obey her in everything that she says to you immediately after.”

Ingrid told the Blade she went home and tried to kill herself by suicide.

“I couldn’t work with her anymore, so I tried to kill myself,” said Ingrid. “I was already tired of her.”

Ingrid’s complaint notes the store manager on Dec. 25 “stated that my issues with” her manager “were just ‘drama.'”

Ingrid told the Blade she filed a restraining order against her manager.

Ingrid told the Blade that her manager and several Burger King representatives attended the hearings. Ingrid said she suffered anxiety attacks that left her unable to speak and she cried uncontrollably.

Ingrid said the judge last month dismissed her restraining order petition. Ingrid told the Blade the district manager by that point had already cut her hours.

“I used to work five days,” said Ingrid. “He took two days of those five days.”

Ingrid reiterates this claim in her complaint.

“In January 2020, despite my numerous complaints to respondent’s upper management, the hostile work environment was not addressed, and instead I continued to be subjected to unwelcome comments about my sexual orientation from my supervisor as well as my coworkers who respondent’s manager told about my complaints,” she wrote. “Instead of addressing the situation, respondent’s district manager … cut my workdays and hours and changed my schedule, affecting my pay.”

Burger King, which is based in Miami, received a 100 percent score in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index.

Burger King’s corporate office has not returned the Blade’s requests for comment. Efforts to reach the Burger King where Ingrid works via telephone were unsuccessful.

Ingrid, who continues to work at the Burger King where she said the harassment has taken place, told the Blade it is her first job. She said she filed her complaint because she doesn’t “want another LGBTQ person or someone who is not out to go through this again.”

“I don’t want someone else to get anxiety or depression because of this,” Ingrid told the Blade.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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