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Monday 13 April 2015

McDonald's worker told by manager not to act gay

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 2nd May 2013

Sean Bailey with Ronald McDonald
An Auckland McDonald’s worker is taking a personal grievance case because he's unhappy with how a manager who told him to act less gay was dealt with.

Sean Bailey, a worker at Quay Street store, took part in a protest calling for better wages and working conditions yesterday, where he also spoke out about gay rights.

He tells Daily News he was just being himself at work one day when the manager approached him and said if he acted gay on his shift, he’d discipline him.

Bailey was taken aback, and lost for words, so he walked away and pretended it didn’t happen.

A week or two later Bailey was joking with a colleague about who they might be able to turn gay, when the manager approached him and said if he turned anyone gay he’d make sure he lost his job.

“I was just like, WTF. I was shocked.”

Bailey says he had also been told to change his voice because it sounded "too gay".

He got in contact with another manager and said he couldn’t finish his shift, and called in sick the next day as he was too embarrassed to go to work.

Ultimately he was told to email all the details of what had happened to the second manager, so there could be a disciplinary meeting.

The result was an apology from the manager who told him to act less gay, who was then moved to another store which had a shortage of managers.

“I expected a harsher penalty,” Bailey says. “He’s broken not one law but two; the Employment Relations Act and the Human Rights Act.”

While the details of his complaint and disciplinary hearing were supposed to be private, Bailey says there was plenty of chatter about it behind the counter and he copped some flak for speaking out. He said he told his bosses he was hurt that what was supposed to have been talked about in confidence was now workplace gossip.

He approached his delegate at the Unite union and explained what had happened and they have decided to raise a personal grievance case.

“He should have been dealt with seriously … I wanted to him to be treated like everyone else, not treated differently because he is a manager.”

Bailey is aware of gay employees at the store the manager has moved to and he is worried they may also face discrimination.

McDonald's says it has policies in place to protect staff against discrimination.

It says internal processes were followed in this case, but privacy restrictions mean it can’t discuss the outcome.

Bailey says there are other cases alleging discrimination against gay workers at McDonald’s and a ‘Turn McDonald's Gay Day’ is being planned for Friday 10 May. People will gather at Britomart McDonald's at 8PM to prepare for a same-sex kiss-in.

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