Feminism | Posted by Molly W on 08/8/2012

Chick-Fil-A: Not For Feminists, Either

If you’re like me, your Facebook newsfeed, your Twitter stream and your local news is surprisingly loaded with stories about fast food purveyor, Chik-fil-a. All kinds of opinions about Christianity, the definition of “family” or corporate executives using their millions to support anti-gay marriage organizations have sprouted into an extremely spirited debate.

As a gay lady myself though, all of this hubbub isn’t surprising. It was an open secret of sorts that the organization wasn’t exactly a friend of the LGBT community – they are closed on Sundays in observance of the Christian sabbath, which is uncommon now in most places. Rather, the news of a lawsuit against the company from a former employee alleging gender discrimination is what has me particularly irked.

Brenda Honeycutt’s suit for wrongful termination states that her employment was terminated by the owner operator of the Chik-fil-a restaurants in Duluth, GA, despite having satisfactory to above-satisfactory performance. The suit cites the reason for her termination as so Mrs. Honeycutt could be a “stay home mother.” She was replaced subsequently by a male employee as well. The suit also cites other cases where female employees were terminated in an extremely similar manner, citing similar reasons.

This was far more upsetting to me than anything that Mr. Cathy said about me. I can accept that one man somewhere thinks that I shouldn’t be able to get married; in fact, I know there are quite a few more people who share his beliefs. By contrast though, this lawsuit highlights the actions of an employee working in the supposed best interests of the company.

Why would an enterprising business man fire someone who appears to be a perfectly competent employee? Either he believes that this woman was not adequately performing the duties of her job because of her obligations to her children at home, or that it was his job as a leader to uphold certain moral beliefs espoused by the company. Neither option is an acceptable excuse for gender discrimination.

When I think about this story though, I think about Mrs. Honeycutt’s children. As a child, my mother was the major “bread-winner” in our family, so to speak. My dad had retired from his job at IBM when I was pretty young, and while he always had some sort of job until he went back to school to finally get his college degree, Mom was always the one who’s income supported our family.

I didn’t quite understand exactly how amazing this was as a child. My friends all seemed to have moms who could pick them up from school every day at 2:30 when it ended, while I stayed in after school care until 6 or was picked up by a babysitter. I was jealous of how much time their mothers had to give to them. It felt like my mom was always working.

But if someone had fired my mom just so she could take care of me, I would’ve been confused. I was completely taken care of. I felt nothing but endless love from both my parents. Any instance where I felt neglected had more to do with a desire to fit in among my peers than it did with any actual neglect. My mother’s job might have interfered with my life, but it was never excessive.

Not everyone believes my experience is possible. I respect women who dedicate their whole lives to raising their children and assisting their partners, but those who view working mothers as doing some disservice to their children are misguided. My mother’s gainful employment has shaped me for the better. It’s definitely part of what’s turned me into a feminist, and what makes me so darn angry that someone else’s mother is being denied the opportunity to do so.

So shame on you, Chik-fil-a. It’s one thing to have moral or religious beliefs, and it’s another to be discriminatory. One does not justify the other.

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