Back to News & Commentary

McDonald's Eats a Super-Sized Order of its Own Words in Kentucky

Chris Hampton,
Share This Page
May 6, 2009

Nine months after an employee at a McDonald’s restaurant in downtown Louisville called a group of gay customers a series of anti-gay slurs – and after the ACLU intervened on the victims’ behalf – we’re happy to announce today that McDonald’s has agreed to a cash settlement and diversity training for management at 30 of its Louisville-area restaurants.

Ryan Marlatt, Teddy Eggers, and three other friends had stopped for lunch at a McDonald’s restaurant on East Market Street last July 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. When Marlatt and Eggers objected to the slur and asked to speak with a manager, 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.” Here’s a video of Ryan and Teddy telling the story of what happened to them:

Please note that by playing this clip You Tube and Google will place a long-term cookie on your computer. Please see You Tube’s privacy statement on their website and Google’s privacy statement on theirs to learn more. To view the ACLU’s privacy statement, click here.

The supervisor on duty refused to refund the group’s purchase, and after Ryan attempted several times in the following weeks to contact both the general manager of the McDonald’s and the corporate offices with no results, he called the ACLU. We filed a complaint with the Louisville Human Relations Commission. With the public and the commission’s eyes on them, McDonald’s finally backed down, agreeing to school its managers on Louisville’s anti-discrimination law and offering Ryan and Teddy $2,000 each, which they accepted. Originally, Ryan and Teddy had only asked for $28, the cost of the meals they and their friends bought on the day they were verbally abused. Would have been much cheaper and easier for them to just apologize and maybe tell their staff not to call paying customers “faggots,” don’t you think?