McDonald’s Franchisee Will Pay Former Employees $1 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Last week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that Missoula Mac, Inc., the owner and franchisee of 25 McDonald’s restaurants, has agreed to pay $1,000,000 and provide substantial injunctive relief to settle a class sexual harassment lawsuit. The Chicago District Office of the EEOC filed the suit in April 2011 after it conducted an investigation into discrimination charges brought by three women who were previously employed at the Reedsburg, Wisconsin McDonald’s owned by Missoula Mac.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, several male employees subjected female co-workers to sexual harassment, including making sexual comments to them, kissing them, touching their private areas, and forcing their hands onto the men’s private areas. Some of the female employees who were subjected to sexual harassment were only teenagers at the time.
The complaint also alleges that after Missoula Mac was notified of the harassment they failed and refused to take prompt and appropriate action, creating a hostile work environment. At least one of the female employees was forced to quit and others were fired after complaining repeatedly about being harassed by their male co-workers.
John Hendrickson, the EEOC regional attorney in Chicago, stated that “The ongoing sexual harassment in Reedsburg, and the company’s refusal to stop it, devolved into a culture of oppression, retaliation and fear. Women who work in restaurants have it tough enough without having to put up with sexual harassment.”
EEOC General Counsel P. David López commented that “sexual harassment in the restaurant industry remains a problem nationwide.” López added that “harassment no longer can be accepted as simply ‘part of the culture’ of the restaurant industry.” “As seen in this case,” he stated, “many younger workers’ first experience with the workplace is in this industry and it is important that harassment of these workers not be tolerated.”
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