Last year, a federal appeals court in California ruled that McDonald’s Corp could not be held responsible for sexual harassment that may have taken place at its franchise restaurants. However, some of the non-franchise restaurants that are owned and operated by the chain are now being sued for the same thing.
Only about 5% of McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. are owned and operated by McDonald’s Corp. Many of those corporate-owned restaurants are in Florida. On April 10, some female employees who worked at the corporate-owned Florida restaurants filed a class action lawsuit against McDonald’s, accusing the chain of allowing a climate of severe and pervasive sexual harassment to exist. The plaintiffs represent female employees at over 100 restaurants, and they are seeking $500 million for damages.
According to the lawsuit, McDonald’s kept serial harassers employed and punished employees who complained about the harassment. Rather than firing harassers, the plaintiffs allege that McDonald’s moved the harassers from restaurant to restaurant. The alleged harassment included unwanted sexual comments and touching by male coworkers. A similar class action lawsuit against McDonald’s Corp has also been filed in Michigan, and the company also faces some individual lawsuits.
A person who has been sexually harassed in the workplace may choose to file an individual lawsuit or join a class action lawsuit with other employees. An employment law attorney may be able to advise a person about how to proceed. In many sexual harassment cases, having multiple plaintiffs or witnesses can help to prove that a workplace had a pervasive culture of harassment that went unchecked.