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By Patrick Thomas
The American Civil Liberties Union and a group of McDonald's Corp. workers from Michigan sued the fast-food giant on Tuesday, accusing the company of not properly handling allegations of sexual harassment at one of its restaurants.
In the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, the ACLU and workers at a Mason, Mich., store allege that acts of harassment, such as groping and other physical assaults, by a supervisor at the franchisee-owned restaurant went ignored by management.
The suit, filed in state court in Ingham County, Mich., is seeking at least $5 million in damages. It also asks for McDonald's to implement worker-centered antiharassment policies and procedures, such as worker-led mandatory training, a safe system of reporting, adequate investigation and discipline, and protections against retaliation, the ACLU said.
The Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, an initiative launched by women in the entertainment industry following the #MeToo movement, is also providing legal support to the plaintiffs.
A McDonald's spokeswoman said the company has demonstrated its commitment to safe and respectful workplaces by implementing antiharassment training at all of its corporate-owned restaurants. The company strengthened the training and protocol for reporting potential employee misconduct this year for its roughly 850,000 U.S. employees.
In a separate complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday, a worker at a McDonald's restaurant in Detroit says she was forced to quit after being transferred to another store and having her hours cut after reporting that she was sexually harassed by a supervisor, the ACLU said.
The ACLU said on Tuesday that at least 50 harassment complaints have been filed against the company over the past three years.
Earlier this month, McDonald's fired Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook because of his consensual relationship with a female employee. Mr. Easterbrook was succeeded by Chris Kempczinski. McDonald's has a longstanding policy against its employees having relationships with direct and indirect reports at all levels, which extends companywide to McDonald's CEO.
The company has faced additional challenges at its U.S. restaurants this year. Labor organizers and some lawmakers have called on the company to address workplace-harassment issues and raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Write to Patrick Thomas at Patrick.Thomas@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 12, 2019 12:22 ET (17:22 GMT)
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