MASON, Mich. (WLNS)— Former employees at a McDonald’s in Mason have won a class-action sexual harassment lawsuit.
The amount the victims can claim averages out to $10,000, depending on the extent of the harassment faced.
The suit was originally filed in November 2019 by former McDonald’s worker Jenna Ries.
Ries worked at the Mason McDonald’s for three years and alleged that a manager frequently asked her for sex on the job, and called her slur words in front of other workers.
She says the store’s general manager frequently grabbed her breasts, buttocks, and crotch.
Three former employees later joined Ries in bringing the case, and nearly 20 other women submitted sworn statements in support of the lawsuit. Each of them attested to similar conduct experienced at the hands of the same manager, according to the lawsuit.
A federal judge ruled the lawsuit could continue with nearly 100 other women and teenage girls, based on evidence showing the “consistency, frequency, severity, and visibility” of the harassment experienced at the hands of a store manager.
“No one should have to put up with sexual harassment to get a paycheck,” said Ries. “I filed this lawsuit because I didn’t want other women to go through what I did while working at McDonald’s. I hope those who were abused will get the compensation they deserve, but I also hope McDonald’s will listen to survivors, and do everything possible to prevent sexual harassment in its restaurants.”
“While this settlement is a win for dozens of Mason McDonald’s workers who claimed egregious harassment, it, unfortunately, doesn’t go as far as we would have hoped, because McDonald’s corporate wasn’t at the table,” said Gillian Thomas, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project.
McDonald’s wanted to be let out of the case, claiming that because it did not directly employ the harasser or the women he targeted, it was not responsible for the abuse.
Late last year, the court agreed and dismissed the corporate entity.
That left the franchisee as the only defendant in the case. It is paying the $1.5 million settlement.
“If McDonald’s accepted responsibility for the well-being of the nearly one million people who work under the Golden Arches, it would protect countless workers from harassment and violence,” explained Darcie Brault, Michigan-based counsel for the Mason Plaintiffs. “It is unconscionable that McDonald’s continues to say ‘not it’ when it comes to sexual harassment of workers at its franchise locations.”
Ninety-five percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are franchises. But the company historically has not required franchisees to take steps to prevent or remedy harassment and routinely fights franchise workers’ efforts to hold the company responsible in court.
The Michigan class-action suit was initially filed by Ries and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and co-counsel with support from the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.