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Advocacy on Behalf of Gay Men Verbally Abused by McDonald's Staff

Last Update: May 6, 2009

What's at Stake

The ACLU is representing two gay men in an official complaint to the Louisville Human Relations Commission after an employee at a McDonald's restaurant in downtown Louisville called them and three friends a series of anti-gay slurs.

Watch a video of Ryan Marlatt and Teddy Eggers, two of the men verbally abused by McDonald's staff in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Ryan Marlatt, Teddy Eggers, and three other friends had stopped for lunch at the McDonald's restaurant on July 26, 2008, while visiting Louisville for the weekend. While they waited for their food to be prepared, an employee behind the counter referred to them as "faggots" to another employee. Marlatt and Eggers asked to speak with a manager. As they waited for the supervisor on duty to appear, the employee who had called them "faggots" started arguing with them, repeatedly calling them "faggots" in front of other customers and calling one of them a "cocksucker" and "bitch."

The supervisor on duty refused to refund the group's purchase, claiming that only the restaurant's general manager could authorize a refund. Marlatt said he attempted several times in the following weeks to contact both the general manager of the McDonald's and the corporate offices. But when he filed reports with a corporate customer service number for McDonald's, Marlatt said, he never received any sort of response, and every time he called the McDonald's where the incident took place the staff hung up on him.

Louisville has a local human rights ordinance which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public accommodations such as restaurants.

Marlatt and Eggers say they want an apology, a refund of the $28 they spent on the McDonald's meal, and appropriate disciplinary action for the employees involved.

Status: VICTORY! McDonald's has agreed to a cash settlement and diversity training for management at 30 of its Louisville-area restaurants.

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