July 20th, 2012

A franchise owning company of 25 McDonald’s restaurants was fined $1 million in a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission following an investigation of sexual harassment complaints at one of its Midwest locations.

The EEOC responded to reports of sexual comments, kissing, and other inappropriate touching forced upon female employees by their male coworkers. The EEOC says that the franchise owner knew about the sexual harassment and not only failed to act to stop it, but retaliated against female employees who complained and permitting male employees to continue the behavior.

Sexual harassment on the job is never acceptable and all employees have a right to a safe work environment. Many of the victims in this case were apparently teenage girls at one of the McDonald’s locations.

In addition to the settlement which covers restitution for the female employees, the franchise owner will also have to comply with a consent decree that requires additional training and oversight to prevent sexual harassment from happening in the future and to protect employees who complain about sexual harassment. The franchise owner will have to establish a confidential hotline for reporting complaints of this nature and will implement training programs that will enable employees to identify and properly investigate incidents of sexual harassment.

An EEOC spokesperson said that sexual harassment in the restaurant industry is a problem nationwide and that it should not be accepted as a part of the culture in restaurants, especially because of the prevalence of teenage workers in those environments.

Source: Job Mouse, “Owner of 25 McDonald’s Restaurants To Pay $1 Million in EEOC Sexual Harassment Suit,” Anneline Waldman, July 19, 2012.

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