A Transphobic Store Manager at Starbucks Pressured His Talented Employee to Quit, So Now She’s Suing
During Maddie Wade’s tenure supervising a Starbucks in Fresno, California, her store went from one of the three worst in the city to one of the three best. Wade was set to become the store’s assistant manager due to her success turning the store around. But when she came out as trans, her transphobic manager started cutting her hours, misgendering her and making work so unpleasant, she had to leave. Now she’s suing Starbucks and the manager.
According to her lawsuit, the Milburn Street Starbucks was the epitome of dysfunction. When Wade started at the store in 2016, baristas were untrained and drive-thru times averaged between 15 to 20 minutes; the standard length of a drive-thru visit should’ve been 55 seconds.
When an interim manager came in to clean up the mess, she worked with Wade on improving the store and increasing her skill set so one day Wade could be appointed assistant manager. Wade says she anticipated a long-term career at Starbucks.
But in July 2017, a full-time manager was appointed. Dustin Guthrie offered to take Wade under his wing and keep training her to eventually become an assistant manager.
Things were going great, so in Oct. 2017, she told Guthrie she was beginning her gender transition. Though she had the support of all her other co-workers, the transphobic manager started to cut her hours and her responsibilities.
Guthrie was also outspoken about his “strong political and religious views,” and refused to use Wade’s preferred pronouns or her new name. He also had a vlog where he discussed his views, including his belief that being trans is “either a myth and/or morally reprehensible.” He also posted a number of anti-trans memes to his social media accounts (including the one above).
Maddie Wade eventually felt forced to request a transfer, and her new location was worse. Baristas ignored policies, customers intentionally misgendered her and the manager at the new store laughed off Wade’s complaints. She tried to set up a meeting with the Starbucks district manager, but never heard back.
She felt forced to resign over the treatment she’d received; a decision spurred on by her gender therapist. Wade resigned June 5, but in resigning, she lost her health insurance and had to halt her transition.
Wade is now suing Starbucks and Dustin Guthrie for their poor treatment of her. A trial date has not been set, however. She’s seeking general, special and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees and the cost of filing.