An attorney for Maddie Wade, a former transgender Starbucks employee who sued the company for harassment and discrimination, has deemed the coffee shop’s new trans-positive ad campaign “hypocritical.”
In 2018, Wade sued Starbucks after alleging her manager misgendered her and engaged in other hostile behavior. The suit was dismissed last year because the Fresno County Superior Court judge contended the behavior was “not so intolerable;” Wade is appealing the decision, according to the Advocate.
Starbucks’ new #whatsyourname campaign shows a barista being the first person in a trans man’s life to use his chosen name after being deadnamed by his doctor, a delivery man, and his dad. The campaign also supports Mermaids, a UK-based organization supporting transgender and gender-nonconforming young people.
Wade’s attorney, Arnold Peter, called the campaign “a cruel slap in the face of their own employees who have faced hateful and derogatory discrimination in the workplace.”
“The company’s attempt at marketing their position on inclusion and gender equality is both phony and hypocritical to their own employees who have faced discrimination while working in their stores,” Peter continued. “How are we to believe this kind of message when Starbucks’ own attorneys forcefully argue that misgendering and other hostile behavior endured by a transgender employee does not constitute harassment or discrimination?”
“While Starbucks may indeed encourage their employees to treat all customers with respect, their recent arguments in court call into question the true intent of their corporate position on LGBTQ rights,” he said. “It is insincere for Starbucks to take this kind of public position in their customer marketing while treating their own transgender employees like second-class citizens.”
During the court case last year, a spokesperson for Starbucks contended that the company does not endorse misgendering, Wade’s case just didn’t meet the standard for harassment.