McDonald’s franchisee settles U.S. agency’s sexual harassment lawsuit

McDonald's franchisee settles U.S. agency's sexual harassment lawsuit
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A McDonald’s restaurant is pictured in Encinitas, California September 9, 2014.REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo/File Photo

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – The franchise operator of 18 McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) locations in Nevada, Arizona and California agreed to pay $1,997,500 to settle regulatory charges it allowed pervasive sexual harassment at its restaurants, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said on Friday.

Since at least 2017, AMTCR Inc knew about and let supervisors, managers and other workers intimidate and make unwanted sexual advances, touching and offensive comments toward victims, who were mainly teenage employees, the EEOC said.

The agency’s complaint filed in Sept. 2021 described alleged harassment of 11 victims, and said most quit their jobs because they could no longer tolerate the sexually abusive hostile work environments.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey in Las Vegas approved a three-year consent decree requiring AMTCR to retain an outside monitor to oversee its handling of harassment and retaliation claims.

AMTCR also agreed to improve employee training, track harassment and retaliation complaints, and survey employees annually about workplace conditions.

The franchisee denied wrongdoing and liability in agreeing to the decree. Money from the payout will be distributed to eligible claimants.

A lawyer for AMTCR did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

McDonald’s was not a defendant. The Chicago-based company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In April 2021, McDonald’s pledged to improve improve training to fight harassment and discrimination, after facing lawsuits claiming that female employees at corporate-owned locations were subjected to widespread sexual harassment.

Eight months later, former Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook returned more than $105 million of severance and issued an apology to settle the company’s lawsuit claiming he lied to conceal sexual relationships with employees.

The Las Vegas case is EEOC v AMTCR Inc et al, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada, No. 21-01808.

Source: Reuters