A former McDonald’s employee says a male co-worker at a Michigan restaurant routinely grabbed her breasts and buttocks and propositioned her for sex — allegations laid out in a new class-action lawsuit that accuses McDonald’s of a “culture of sexual harassment.”
The lawsuit against McDonald’s and its Michigan franchise is the latest allegation of rampant abuse and harassment of female employees at the fast-food chain. Lawyers representing workers say more than 50 claims and charges of harassment of female employees are pending against McDonald’s in courts and at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Their accusations drew new focus last week when McDonald’s fired its CEO, Steve Easterbrook, over a consensual relationship with an employee. He is not accused of sexual harassment, but the relationship violated company policy. Still, Easterbrook is receiving a multi-million-dollar exit package.
Tuesday’s lawsuit by former McDonald’s employee Jenna Ries points to Easterbrook’s firing to allege that McDonald’s as a corporation “creates and permits a toxic work culture from the very top.”
In the lawsuit, Ries says a store manager repeatedly harassed her, called her names, pulled her hair, and at one point, when they were working next to each other in the kitchen, even “placed his penis” in her hand. According to the filing, Ries witnessed similar harassment of other women and girls, and reported the co-worker to the general manager — but the behavior continued.
More than 50 women who have worked at the Michigan franchise could join her class-action suit if it’s recognized, according to the filing. The lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages for workers at the Mason, Mich., location.
The vast majority of McDonald’s restaurants are owned by franchisees. But the lawsuit says the corporation, too, has failed to address the “systemic sexual harassment” and therefore enabled it.