The complaint states that “no corrective action” was taken against the Burger King manager (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/ Getty)
A lesbian Burger King employee has filed a complaint with the DC Office of Human Rights alleging that her manager continually harassed her because of her sexual orientation.
Nineteen-year-old Ingrid Contreras began working at Burger King near the University of the District of Columbia in August. She says her manager learned of her sexuality in September and began making frequent inappropriate comments about it.
She was repeatedly pressed on whether she was sexually attracted to female customers and colleagues, and when Conteras asked her to stop the “unwelcome” comments she was ignored.
“I work as a cashier and every time a female customer approached me to place an order, she would come from behind and whisper to my ear, ‘Do you like that woman?’” Conteras wrote in the complaint.
The manager is also said to have told Conteras, in front of other employees, that she was “falling in love with” a female colleague.
“She made me feel like just because I’m a lesbian I cannot talk to other girls,” she told the Washington Blade.
Before appealing to the Office of Human Rights, Contreras filed a written and verbal complaint of discrimination with the store manager and the district manager. No action was taken and the harassment continued.
Two days later she was asked in front of other employees and a group of male construction workers: “Who is the ‘man’ in your relationship with your girlfriend?’”
After she raised her concerns the manager turned sour towards her, and on December 7 another colleague informed her that “everyone knew” about the confidential complaint because the manager had told them.
Although Conteras was initially promised that she would not have to work with the offending manager any more, this was not the case, and she was later ordered: “You need to obey her in everything that she says to you immediately after.”
On several occasions she was “yelled at” in front of other staff and warned: “You are not special”.
The complaint states that the manager dismissed all the issues as “just drama”, but Contreras claims it has resulted in Burger King reducing her working hours. She previously worked five days a week but this was cut down to three, affecting her ability to pay for nursing school and help her mother with bills.
Her working environment became so distressing that she would cry uncontrollably and suffered anxiety attacks that left her unable to speak. She eventually became so depressed that she was driven to suicide.
“I couldn’t work with her anymore, so I tried to kill myself,” said Ingrid. “I was already tired of her.”
Conteras filed a restraining order against her manager, but this was dismissed by a judge. The case continues.