We Don't Hire Your Kind: The Zikerria Bellamy Resource Kit
On July 10, 2009, 17-year-old Zikerria Bellamy applied online for a position as a Shift Manager or Crew Leader at a McDonald’s restaurant in Orlando, Florida. On July 28, after managers at McDonald’s learned that Zikerria is transgender, she received the following voicemail message from one of the managers:
Zikerria never received the job interview she sought. McDonald's refused to hire her.
Zikerria’s story is all too common. Transgender people face tremendous discrimination in the workplace. According to a recent survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, 47% of transgender people report being fired, or denied a job or promotion, just because of who they are.
Few protections exist for transgender people who experience employment discrimination. In 38 states, there is no law protecting transgender people from being fired because of who they are. Federal law similarly offers no job protection for transgender people.
In Florida, while no law explicitly addresses discrimination based on gender identity, administrative agencies in Florida have ruled that transgender people are protected by the Florida Human Rights Act’s prohibitions on sex and disability discrimination. The Competitive Workforce Bill, which would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the Florida Civil Rights Act, was introduced in the Florida legislature on November 20.
At the federal level, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) (S.1584) would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote an employee based on the person’s gender identity or sexual orientation at companies with fifteen or more employees. The legislation was introduced in the United States Senate on August 5, 2009. On November 5, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held the Senate’s first hearing on the latest version of ENDA. A version of ENDA was also introduced in the United States House of Representatives on June 24, 2009. The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on the measure on September 23. Little has happened since.
According to a 2007 survey, 72 percent of Americans agree that "fairness is a basic American value and employment decisions should be based solely on qualifications and job performance, including for transgender people." In a 2002 poll, 61 percent of those polled said that we need laws to protect transgender people from discrimination. President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and has stated his belief that anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.