Only 18 states have laws that protect transgender people from discrimination.
Photo via (cc) Flicker user Ryan
According to the ACLU, only 18 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have laws that protect transgender people from discrimination. This means that transgender people can legally be rejected for housing, jobs, and numerous other opportunities based on their gender identity. Specifically, in Virginia, there are no laws to protect people from being denied employment because they’re transgender. That’s why recent actions taken by KFC are so important.
Fast-food worker Georgia Carter was hired by a Richmond, Virginia, KFC and was told she could start training the next day. “He was like, ‘You have got the job,’” Carter told WRIC. “‘I am going to start you out at $7.50 an hour. It is yours. We are going start you training on the computer tomorrow.’” But after the manager saw that her driver’s license read “male,” he rescinded the job offer, stating, “We can’t hire you because we don’t know which bathroom you can use.”
After hearing that Carter was fired for being transgender, KFC investigated the situation. The company then had the Richmond location’s franchisee fire its manager and rehire Carter.
“KFC’s policy is to treat everyone fairly, equally and with respect, and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. Upon learning of this allegation, the franchisee who owns this Richmond restaurant conducted an immediate and thorough investigation. The manager has been terminated for violating the franchisee's anti-discrimination policy, which is inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation. The franchisee's leadership has also had a conversation with Ms. Carter, offering her employment at this restaurant or any of their Richmond area KFC restaurants, effective immediately. Additionally, the franchisee is emphasizing sensitivity and compliance with their policies to keep this from happening again.”
KFC’s actions are commendable because the company has implemented internal policies that prohibit discrimination regardless of state law. When private companies step up and fight discrimination, it empowers vulnerable groups such as transgender people and protects them in situations where the government has failed to act.