An employee of a New Zealand McDonald's claims the he was reprimanded and harassed by management for being "too gay."
Sean Bailey allegedly had three separate incidents of discrimination with two different managers. He says the encounters made him "embarrassed" to return to work.
"One of my managers said, 'If you act gay on my shift, I will discipline you,'" Bailey said. "He also said, 'If you turn anyone else in the store gay, I will punish you and make you lose your job.'"
He added, "I had to call in sick just because I couldn't work with him, which meant I lost work hours and money."
Unite, a New Zealand workers' union that fights to improve workers' wages and working conditions, is supporting Bailey. The group led a protest on Wednesday.
According to Unite representative Joe Carolan, one of the managers who harassed Bailey was moved to another location.
"I think McDonald’s have gone for the Catholic Church solution here," Carolan said. "Rather than reprimand or fire someone for gross discrimination, they simply moved him to another store. And I don’t know how gay or lesbian people at that store feel about this manager there. Will it be another couple of months before we have a similar report there?”
Bailey had his own thoughts about the disciplinary measure. “I think the punishment was unfair for something so serious,” he said. “Even though he had moved stores, there’s nothing to stop him from doing the same thing somewhere else.”
A representative said McDonald's U.S. doesn't stand for discrimination of any kind, according to The Huffington Post.
“At McDonald’s, we respect and value everyone," the spokesperson said. "We have a strict policy prohibiting any form of discrimination in our restaurants. We recognize and appreciate individuals’ rights and require all our restaurants to follow local, state and federal laws."