Fresno County judge ruled in favor of Starbucks in a lawsuit vs. transgender employee
A Fresno County judge has ruled against a former Starbucks worker who claimed she was harassed and discriminated against because she is transgender.
Maddie Wade sued Starbucks and her manager in July last year.
Wade, who worked at the 6701 N. Milburn Ave. location in Fresno, alleged the manager reduced her hours and discriminated against her after she disclosed plans to start hormone therapy and have facial feminization surgery.
Judge Kimberly Gaab issued a tentative ruling Tuesday, writing that she did not find enough evidence Wade was harassed or discriminated against.
During a hearing Tuesday, Wade’s attorney Arnold Peter urged the judge to reconsider her ruling. Peter said Gaab agreed to go back and review the evidence and will likely render her decision in a few days.
If the judge does not change her position, Peter said he will file an appeal.
In her tentative ruling, the judge wrote that Starbucks did not allow a hostile work environment that caused Wade to quit her job.
“To the extent the working conditions under (the manager) were intolerable, Starbucks remedied the situation by granting plaintiff’s request to transfer,” Gaab wrote in her ruling.
“Additionally, the evidence shows that the conditions at (the manager’s) store were not so intolerable. There was testimony of some leering and intimidating behavior by (the manager), but this was directed at all employees, not just plaintiff.”
Judge: No anti-transgender comments made
Wade claimed the manager refused to call her by her female name.
The lawsuit states the manager struggled with understanding Wade’s decision to transition, and he posted on social media his “hostility” toward transgender people.
Wade eventually was forced to resign because of the “intolerable conditions,” the complaint said.
The judge found the manager didn’t make any anti-transgeder or negative comments about Wade’s transition.
Wade also accused the manager of violating Starbuck’s guidelines for supporting transgender employees. The guidelines say, in part, that a employee should be referred to by their gender identity. Not doing so would violate the company’s policy.
Gaab wrote that while Starbucks may have such a policy, it does not set the standard for harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Wade was seeking unlimited damages from Starbucks and alleges the loss of a job and health insurance caused her to slide back into gender dysphoria — the distress someone feels when their physical gender does not match the gender they identify with.