California Restaurant Industry Launches First-of-its-Kind Transgender Employment Program

With the unemployment rate among transgender people being one of the highest in comparison with the national average, California is hoping a new program will help reduce unemployment numbers for the transgender community. Transgender woman Michaele Medelsohn has helped hire many trans people at her restaurant in the heart of Los Angeles called El Pollo Loco.

The unemployment rate for transgender people is double that of the general population. Now, California has set up the nation’s first ever large-scale program to help transgender people find jobs.

“The word’s just gotten out that I’m a trans owner supporting trans people,” Mendelsohn says.

She now owns six, and has become known for supporting the trans community with jobs. “Currently, we have eight to ten percent of our total workforce is transgender, out of about 150 employees,” she says.

After meeting with other leaders in the industry at the California Restaurant Association, including Jot Condie (the head of the association) who was troubled by the employment statistics of the transgender community.

“I considered myself, as a person, somebody who had my head in the sand when it comes to what they’re really going through,” Condie says. “This is a civil rights issue.”

Mendelsohn was put in charge of bringing together trans people seeking employment with restaurant owners looking for workers.

At the Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo Mendelsohn gave a talk about their recently launched California Transgender Workplace Project. Enlightening and educational, employers took notice of the initiative. [NPR]



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