The owner and franchisee of 25 McDonald’s restaurants has agreed to pay $1,000,000 and provide substantial injunctive relief to resolve a class sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Missoula Mac violated federal civil rights laws at its Reedsburg, Wis., McDonald’s by permitting male employees to create a hostile work environment of sexual harassment against female co-workers, some of whom were teenagers, and by retaliating against those who complained about sexual harassment. According to the EEOC’s complaint, since at least 2006, several male employees at the restaurant subjected female co-workers to sexual harassment, including sexual comments, kissing, touching of their private areas, and forcing their hands onto the men’s private parts.
Despite being notified of the situation, Missoula Mac failed and refused to take prompt and appropriate action to correct the harassment and the resulting hostile environment, forcing at least one of the harassed employees to quit. Further, the company fired other harassed employees after they complained repeatedly about their co-workers’ behavior. Three women previously employed at the Reedsburg McDonald’s filed discrimination charges with the EEOC that led to the lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb entered a four-year consent decree resolving the suit. Under its terms, Missoula Mac will pay out $1 million in compensatory damages to 10 former employees who experienced sexual harassment and retaliation during their employment at the Reedsburg McDonald’s. The company will also (1) create an ombudsperson position responsible for monitoring, soliciting and resolving complaints of sexual harassment or retaliation; (2) establish telephone and e-mail hotlines for employees to report sexual harassment or retaliation; (3) evaluate its managers’ and supervisors’ performance based in part on whether their restaurants comply with anti-harassment and anti-retaliation laws and policies; (4) track and maintain records of all sexual harassment and retaliation complaints; (5) implement a comprehensive training program to enable its employees to identify sexual harassment and properly investigate internal complaints; (6) post notices at all its restaurants informing employees that it has settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit with the EEOC and publicizing some settlement terms; and (7) provide periodic reports to the EEOC showing it is complying with the terms of the decree.