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Workers sue McDonald’s over harassment at Florida stores

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(AP) — Two McDonald’s workers in Florida are filing a $500 million class action lawsuit against the company, claiming a “systemic sexual harassment problem” at company-owned stores.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court in Illinois, where McDonald’s is based. In the complaint, current McDonald’s employee Jamelia Fairley and former employee Ashley Reddick say they were repeatedly subjected to sexual harassment and physical assaults at a company-owned McDonald’s in Sanford, Florida.

and Reddick initially filed charges last May with the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission. The commission dismissed the case in
January but informed both women they had the right to sue McDonald’s
within 90 days.

At least 50 workers have filed sexual harassment
charges against McDonald’s with the commission over the past four years,
and McDonald’s has acknowledged the problem.

In 2018, the company
introduced harassment training for its U.S. franchisees and general
managers. Last year, 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, Fairley and Reddick said McDonald’s is not ensuring
that franchisees provide the training. Franchisees own approximately 95%
of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants. The lawsuit also said McDonald’s
isn’t training store managers or adequately punishing serial harassers.

a statement Monday, McDonald’s said it is committed to ensuring that
employees work in an environment free from discrimination and
harassment. The company said employees at all of its company-owned
stores are receiving training, and it is encouraging franchisees to
provide it as well.

“The plaintiffs’ allegations of harassment and
retaliation were investigated as soon as they were brought to our
attention, and we will likewise investigate the new allegations that
they have raised in their complaint,” the company said.

lawsuit seeks $100,000 in damages for about 5,000 women who have worked
at 100 company-owned stores in Florida since April 2016.