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Hamden McDonald’s sued for allegedly discriminating against gay employee

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McDonald's

HAMDEN–A local McDonald’s franchise location is being sued by a former employee for discrimination.

Latoya Lewis says in her suit against Golden Hawk LLC, a Shelton-based franchisee that owned 16 McDonald’s in the state as of 2009, that she complained about the hostile work environment she was experiencing, and was subsequently fired.

According to the judge’s decision regarding the defendant’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, Lewis was hired in June 2010, but at first her supervisors didn’t know she was gay. She said the situation got worse when they found out shortly after she was hired, and at that point two of the store managers began “a pattern of harassment against [Lewis], including comments in Spanish claiming another employee was [her] girlfriend and that the two employees were ‘looking out for each other.'”

Also, the supervisors allegedly said Lewis couldn’t work near another female employee, even though the task would normally require the employees to work together.

Lewis says she was under more pressure and closer supervision from managers after they learned of her sexual orientation, and she made a complaint to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities about her work environment in October 2010.

The CHRO told Lewis on April 27, 2011 that it had found “probable merit” in her complaint.

Lewis was fired in August 2011, and she says she was fired not long after Golden Hawk’s corporate leaders learned of her complaint to the CHRO.

Golden Hawk tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, but a New Haven judge ruled that she can proceed with the case.

“A reasonable person could find this work environment to be hostile and the plaintiff alleges she subjectively found it to be so,” Judge John Nazzaro wrote in his decision.

Lewis is suing Golden Hawk under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act. She is also suing them because they retaliated against her whistle-blower complaint, which the judge said was valid because she was fired within one year of making the complaint, and within four months of the  complaint being validated by the CHRO.

The next court date is scheduled for August 30.

In 2012 a state Supreme Court decision extended the ability for employees to sue for a hostile workplace claim to cover sexual orientation issues, according to the Connecticut Law Tribune.