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Lesbian Georgia welder cites sex discrimination in EEOC complaint against her employer

Lesbian Georgia welder cites sex discrimination in EEOC complaint against her employer


This story was originally reported in The Advocate by

Georgia woman has filed a discrimination complaint against her company, saying it for created a toxic work environment for LGBTQ+ people and women. Megan McDaniel, a welder at Republic Services of Georgia, has filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. McDaniel, a lesbian, claims that derogatory comments and inappropriate behavior toward LGBTQ+ employees are rampant and largely overlooked by company leadership.

McDaniel says the incidents began shortly after she started working at Republic Services in May 2023. She says that 90 days into her tenure, she was targeted with offensive jokes and inappropriate remarks in a work-related group chat, including comments that disparaged her sexual orientation and gender. One specific example she recalls was a derogatory speculation about lesbians’ physical attributes meant to demean her.

“The comments started being directed towards lesbians and gay people,” McDaniel explains. “It was all very direct and uncomfortable.”

She says the harassment escalated dramatically when McDaniel raised her concerns to her supervisor, who also participated in the group chats. Rather than addressing the behavior, she claims, he retaliated by setting discriminatory rules specifically against McDaniel, excluding her from job assignments, and mocking a medical condition in a way designed to humiliate her in front of her colleagues.

In an especially humiliating incident, a sex toy was placed at the workplace, purportedly to mock her sexual orientation. McDaniel described how her supervisor publicly handled the situation, exacerbating her distress: “He not only embarrassed me that time with the adult toy lying in the air; he also contributed to the inappropriate mocking and making me feel incredibly uncomfortable, talking about, ‘Hey, Megan, is this yours? Did you drop it? Is this what you lesbians use?’”

Despite repeated complaints to human resources, McDaniel says Republic Services’ response was minimal and dismissive. The only significant action taken was a company-wide training session, which she says was perfunctory and failed to address the underlying issues or change the discriminatory culture.

Tamara Holder, McDaniel’s attorney, underscored the severity of the situation, calling it “not just harassment or anti-LGBTQ behavior but so violent, it’s abuse.” Holder further criticized Republic Services for its failure to address these issues, which she suggested is indicative of a broader disregard for employees who are not white males. “We currently have four other cases on behalf of Black workers at all levels throughout the company. And I think what Megan highlights so well is that the way that this company operates is abusive towards truly anybody that is not a white male,” Holder says.

“Companies like Republic say that they care and that they do the right thing, but when they receive a complaint, they don’t,” she adds.

Republic Services of Georgia has not responded to The Advocate’s request for comment on the allegations.

For McDaniel, welding is not just a job but a lifelong passion inspired by her family. “I was in the corporate for nine years, and it took me until I had my daughter to have the courage to do something I wanted to do forever, which was going to school to be a welder,” McDaniel shares. Her commitment to this career is more than employment; it’s about fulfilling a personal dream and breaking barriers in a traditionally male-dominated field.

“I don’t want to be treated differently. I just want to be allowed to work and prove myself like anyone else without all this hostility,” she says.

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