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Train staff to respect transgender customers

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Do you train employees to treat all customers with respect, regardless of sexual orientation, transgender status and the like? If not, you may be unwittingly creating a hostile environment for some customers, which can mean a lawsuit under Minnesota’s Human Rights Act.

Recent case: Paul frequently visited a Starbucks in Eden Prairie, where he became acquainted with a female Starbucks employee who often worked the drive-through. At the time, Paul had not yet begun hormone therapy, but identified as a transgender/transsexual male. He claimed that at the time, he received excellent service at the café.

Then, he began hormone therapy to transition from female to male. Because he changed his name, he got new credit cards and debit cards changed to reflect his new name. He told another Starbucks employee about his transition so as not to arouse suspicion over the use of cards in a different name. He asked that the information be kept confidential.

The next time he approached the drive-through, the female employee he had earlier befriended took his order, but got someone else to serve the drink. On subsequent visits, he observed her move away from the window whenever he approached.

This avoidance behavior, along with negative comments Paul began to overhear when he came into the store and another Starbucks location prompted him to complain to management several times over the transgender hostility he perceived.

When nothing changed, he sued, alleging that the coffee shop was allowing a hostile environment to exist. The court agreed the case could move forward, despite Starbucks’ argument that nothing Paul experienced was close to what would be required to establish a hostile work environment. (Bray v. Starbucks, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2017)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Bray September 29, 2018 at 1:24 am

To the staff of business management ,
I respectfully ask that the statement made by this “Kathy Jones” be removed immediately. It contains multiple false statements including accusations of criminal behavior. It is illegal to make false statements about a person in effort to defame their character. It is called Libel. This matter is currently under investigation.


Kathy Jones September 8, 2018 at 7:01 pm

If we are going to publish something then let’s tell the entire story & not just one side. The transgender male had been frequenting the Starbucks. He also was attracted to the female employee. The employee was not aware of this persons gender situation & believed the person was a male. When the employee found out the male was a transgender male who had been “hitting” on her the employee was not interested in a personal relationship. The transgender male continued to come to the Starbucks. The employee was uncomfortable not b/c he was transgender but b/c the transgender male was behaving in a stalking manner. So she was uncomfortable b/c it wasn’t about coffee it was about him being rejected for a date. I am a female & I cannot tell you how many times men have made me uncomfortable & I had no choice but to get another employee to cover me. The employee should be countersuing for “stalking”. This is also not Bray’s first lawsuit. He has a habit of suing when things do not go his way. Bray sued the a hospital he worked for which afforded him a portion of his transgender surgery. Bray is doing this to get the rest done. I am sorry that Starbucks got caught up in this scam. Hopefully, the Starbucks attorney’s have access to his past lawsuits & financial woes. This lawsuit is NOT about transgender rights. Bray ought to be ashamed. If you want food, groceries, surgery, then work for it. Budget your money like normal people do when they want something. I hope the truth prevails!


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