91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Judge grants class action status for lawsuit against Mason area McDonald's where manager allegedly harassed dozens of female workers

Protesters against sexual harassment at McDonald's restaurants
Protesters outside the McDonald's training facility at the corporate global headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.

A federal district judge has granted class action status for a lawsuit against a McDonald's franchise owner.

The lawsuit says one of the managers at the N. Cedar Street store in Mason allegedly sexually harassed dozens of female workers for years.

Gillian Thomas, an attorney with the ACLU's Women's Rights Project represents the plaintiffs. She said the number of women in the class is about 100.

Plaintiffs in their depositions testified that the manager, Sean Banks, made sexual jokes, commented on his subordinate employees' bodies, groped their breasts, crotches and buttocks, and pressured them for sex.

Thomas said Banks' supervisors did almost nothing to stop him from preying on restaurant workers. She said this particular case is "by far the worst," of any sexual harassment lawsuit she's been involved in.

"The youth of a lot of his victims was a feature of much of his harassment," she said. "He was nicknamed the 'Minor Violator' by people, and was known to have a fixation on girls. But he also harassed women who were a great deal older than him. So really, every single shift this guy worked was an exercise in verbal harassment and physical harassment."

Thomas said the McDonald's corporation was named a co-defendant when the lawsuit was filed, but the judge dismissed the corporation from the case.

She noted there are dozens of similar lawsuits alleging sexual harassment of McDonald's restaurant workers around the country. "When we know there's a systemic problem, there should be a systemic solution."

McDonald's, in an April press release, said it would begin requiring franchise owners to adopt standards to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in January, 2022. But Thomas said the company would not show the standards to her, and she fears it's more of a public relations move than anything substantive.

"The corporation cares a whole lot more about the profits they reap from Big Macs and fries and shakes — and pretty much don't care about what's happening to the people who are making those products for them," she asserted.

McDonald's did not respond directly to requests for comment from Michigan Radio. The attorney for the franchise owner said they've decided not to comment on the lawsuit.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
Related Content