McDonald’s Corp. (McDonald’s), one of the world’s leading fast-food chains, has been facing lawsuits over the years regarding sexual assault and harassment against its women employees in their workplace. Recently, the company has faced another class-action lawsuit in a charge related to the subjugation of female employees in its corporate-owned fast-food restaurants in Florida to widespread sexual harassment.
McDonald’s Sexual Harassments Lawsuit
A lawsuit against McDonald’s was filed Friday in federal court in Chicago accusing that the company fostered a climate of “severe or pervasive sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, including groping, physical assaults, and sexually-charged verbal comments.”
The two plaintiffs, one is currently a McDonald’s employee Jamelia Fairley and the other is a former employee Ashley Reddick, who filed the cases by representing a class of female employees of Florida’s more than 100 corporate-owned, non-franchise McDonald’s locations. They were seeking $500 million from the company as compensatory damages and additional punitive damages besides pressurizing the company to adopt policies against harassment.
At a news conference on Monday, April 13, 2020, Fairley said, “It’s time for this company to take responsibility for the safety and well-being of all workers who wear the uniform.” Fairley and Reddick said in their complaint that McDonald’s has failed to provide awareness programs and training to prevent sexual harassment in workplaces.
No Appropriate Actions against the Culprits
Citing that in many cases, the culprits were left unpunished, Fairley and Reddick said in a statement, “McDonald’s strategy in Florida appears to be: deny, ignore, and punish anyone who complains too loudly, and at times, move harassers from one restaurant to another restaurant, where they have access to and can further harass more women.”
The complaint mentioned that Reddick worked at a Sanford, Florida, McDonald’s restaurant from 2015 until 2018, and she was fired from the company when she reported some cases of unwanted sexual comments and touching by a male coworker. The complaint added that Fairley was harassed by two male coworkers while working at the same store, beginning in 2018. In the lawsuit, it was alleged that the management of the company was aware of the harassment of both women but failed to take appropriate action.
Since 2016, McDonald’s had been facing sexual harassment allegations due to large numbers of complaints filed with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. According to a source, “About 95% of McDonald’s US restaurants are run by franchisees rather than by McDonald’s itself.” Moreover, Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook was fired last November for having an improper consensual relationship with an employee, though he was not accused of harassment.
However, McDonald’s defended its position and argued that it could not be held responsible for harassment that happened in the workplaces of its franchise restaurants, that view which was also agreed by a federal appeals court in California last year.
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