Indiana residents may be aware that McDonald’s Corp. has faced several sexual harassment lawsuits in recent years. The Illinois-based fast-food giant argued successfully in a 2019 lawsuit filed in California that it should not be held legally responsible for the actions of managers and supervisors in restaurants owned by franchisees. The company will not be able to make that argument in response to a federal lawsuit filed on April 10.
That is because the two women behind the lawsuit claim that they suffered sexual harassment while working at a Florida McDonald’s that was one of about 100 locations owned by the corporation. The women, who want the case certified as a class action, are seeking at least $500 million in compensatory and punitive damages. They say that they were subjected to lewd language, groping and sexual assault while working at the Seminole County restaurant.
The woman claim in their lawsuit that McDonald’s was aware of inappropriate behavior at corporate locations but chose to do nothing about it. They say that the company failed to provide sexual harassment training and transferred abusers to other restaurants when complaints were made. One of the woman claims that she was fired when she spoke up about the abuse. McDonald’s responded to the lawsuit by vowing to investigate the allegations. The company also said that it is dedicated to providing its workers with a safe environment.
Employers often seek to protect their reputations by settling cases like this one before they go to court, and this could be especially true if the plaintiffs allege retaliation. Attorneys with experience in discrimination and harassment claims may advise workers who have been treated poorly and subjected to abuse to gather whatever evidence they can. Attorneys could then use this material to persuade employers to accept a negotiated settlement.