• A former Chick-fil-A employee is suing a franchise owner in Georgia, alleging a hostile work environment.
  • The lawsuit says the franchisee outed the employee as transgender after she reported sexual harassment.
  • The former employee says she faced threats and other discrimination before she was unfairly fired.

It started on her very first day on the job.

Erin Taylor had just been hired in August of last year and was in training to be a director of 0perations at a Chick-fil-A in Decatur, Georgia, when she says one of her colleagues made several lewd remarks, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Atlanta.

When Taylor approached the franchise owner, Joe Engert, to report the sexual harassment, she disclosed that she was transgender.

Engert, according to the complaint, told Taylor she should be honored as a trans woman that someone would be attracted to her. Engert then revealed Taylor's gender identity to her fellow employees, outing her to the employee who had made the comments in the first place.

"Erin went into this job with the reasonable expectation that her coworkers and managers would accept her as part of their team and work together to successfully operate the restaurant," Taylor's lawyers Ryan Morgan and Jeremy Stephens said in a statement to Insider.

"Ms. Taylor alleges that, instead of the 'positive and productive place to work' Chick-Fil-A says they strive for, she found a cesspool of hate and discrimination," they added.

Chick-fil-A's corporate parent is not named in the suit and a spokesperson declined to comment, directing Insider to a lawyer for Engert. Engert's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit also describes how Taylor was subjected to threats of violence and faced other workplace discrimination, including having her planned training shifted off-track from her initial target of becoming an operations director. On November 1, she was fired.

Chick-fil-A has had a fraught history with the LGBTQ community over founder Truett Cathy's support for conservative Christian charities and opposition to same-sex marriage.

Current CEO Dan Cathy, the son of Truett, has overseen a shift in the company's philanthropy away from hot-button issues, even as he contributes personally to them.

Decatur, which is adjacent to Atlanta, has long been a politically progressive city and home to a significant population of LGBTQ people. The city named Engert one of 10 "Hometown Heroes" in 2020 for donating chicken sandwiches to different community events.

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