Thursday, December 26, 2019

Chick-fil-A's latest distraction

Chick-fil-A's leadership is trying to massage their public profile by reducing their charitable contributions to anti-LGBTQ nonprofits. CFA provides its two affiliated foundations with nearly 35 million tax-deducted dollars per year. Whether or not the Salvation Army receives $110,000 (2018 contribution) from the Chick-fil-A Foundation has no relevance to the lives of LGBTQ persons.

We are not paying attention to what really matters. Chick-fil-A has successfully distracted us and the media. The company has even been able to embrace victimhood due to the scorn heaped upon them by militant conservative Christian activists.

Equality in public accommodations is less relevant than the financial realities of paying for the goods and services those public accommodations offer. The ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges provided us with nationwide marriage equality. It was critically important. Yet, if the act of marrying our loved one on Saturday results in our employment termination on Monday, then the value of marriage equality is diminished.

What I am referring to, of course, is workplace equality which is the bedrock of economic security. Consider Chick-fil-A's equal opportunity employment policy:
Chick-fil-A, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer and makes employment decisions on a non-discriminatory basis. We do not discriminate in employment decisions based upon sex, gender, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, pregnancy, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, military or veteran status, and/or any other status, classification or factor, protected by federal, state or local law. Further, we are committed to fulfilling our responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state and federal laws, including reasonably accommodating a qualified employee or applicant with a disability.
Contrary to its statement, CFA is not an equal opportunity employer. The company does not discriminate on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity only when doing so is prohibited by law. Thank you very much. (Note my self-censorship.)

Chick-fil-A is based in Atlanta. Atlanta passed a comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance nearly 20 years ago. It includes sexual orientation and gender identity. We can safely assume that there are no transgender employees. Are there any openly gay employees? Managers?

Chick-fil-A franchises are not really franchises. What the company calls “operators” have no equity interest in their store which they are required to manage full time. For a fee of $10,000 an operator buys a job managing a fast-food restaurant. Nevertheless, these are highly coveted jobs and they reportedly pay very well. Does the company have any openly gay operators?

Withholding $110,000 from the massive Salvation Army does not impress me. Equal opportunity and security are what really matter to LGBTQ people.

If Chick-fil-A wants to be perceived as non-prejudicial then the first thing they will do is to change their EEO policy to explicitly state that is does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Then they will openly apply this same policy to all of their individual stores. Finally, they will apply the same policy to the selection of franchise operators.

As McDonalds explains:
Human rights are universal rights that are intrinsic to every human being; they include the right to equality and freedom from discrimination. While individual states have a duty to protect human rights, it is widely acknowledged that businesses also have a responsibility to respect them within their sphere of influence.
Based upon the company's EEO policy, Chick-fil-A is openly homophobic and transphobic. I get it. These good Christians have a religious objection to sexual minorities. How does that translate to workplace policies? How does that license discrimination?

McDonalds, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts and many other fast food operators score 100 in the Human Right Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. Some of the low scoring companies did not return the survey. It looks like HRC did not bother to even send the survey to Chick-fil-A. There is a presumption that the company is discriminatory — and it is. We cannot allow that presumption to be accepted as normal.

Some of our antagonists claim that we can never be satisfied. That is untrue. Equal protection includes freedom from discrimination. When government does not provide that freedom we look to the private sector. Much of corporate America has realized that nondiscrimination is not only the right thing to do but it is good for business.

When people purchase one of Chick-fil-A's unhealthy sandwiches they are patronizing an openly bigoted company. For all their sanctimony, corporate leadership is immoral. We need to ensure that those executives know that their immorality is bad for business.

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