Two Florida McDonald’s workers have filed a $500 million class action lawsuit against their employer and have claimed a “systemic sexual harassment problem” at company-owned stores. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Illinois and seeks $100,000 in damages for about 5,000 women who have worked at 100 company-owned stores in Florida since April 2016.
In the lawsuit, Jamelia Fairley, a current McDonald’s employee, and Ashley Reddick, a former McDonald’s employee, allege that they were repeatedly subjected to sexual harassment and physical assaults at a McDonald’s in Sanford, Florida. Fairley and Reddick filed charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which dismissed the case and issued a 90 day right to sue letter. At least 50 workers have filed sexual harassment charges against McDonald’s with the E.E.O.C. over the past four years.
In 2018, apparently as a result of these harassment claims, McDonald’s introduced harassment training for its U.S. franchisees and general managers. In 2019, it released an enhanced anti-discrimination policy, started a hotline for employees to report problems and said it would provide a new training program for all of its 850,000 U.S. employees.
In the lawsuit, however, Fairley and Reddick allege that McDonald’s is not ensuring that franchisees, which own approximately 95% of McDonald’s restaurants in the United States, provide the training. They also allege that McDonald’s is not training store managers or adequately punishing harassers.
McDonald’s stated that it is committed to ensuring that employees work in an environment free from discrimination and harassment and said employees at all of its company-owned stores are receiving training, and it is encouraging franchisees to provide it as well.