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Former Michigan McDonald's workers can collect from $1.5M sexual harassment settlement

McDonald's hopes to hire thousands of new workers.
Miguel Vaca
A McDonald's franchisee has settled a harassment lawsuit with workers.

Some former employees at a mid-Michigan McDonald’s will get to collect part of a $1.5 million class-action legal settlement.

That’s the final resolution in a case brought by around 100 women and teenagers who accused a McDonald’s manager in Mason of severe and pervasive sexual harassment, a firm representing the plaintiffs said in a press release. That included propositioning them for sex, calling them crude and vulgar names in front of other employees, and groping them, among other things.

But employment attorney Darcie Brault, who represented the plaintiffs, said the settlement is only a partial victory because the McDonald’s corporation was dismissed as a defendant in the case. The franchisee will pay out the settlement.

Brault said there’s evidence of widespread sexual harassment at McDonald’s franchises, but the corporation does little about it.

“We want McDonald's to take responsibility for the safety and well-being of its workers, but they refuse to do that,” Brault said. “They claim that they have no responsibility for what happens in these franchise stores.”

“We're hoping that McDonald's will step up to the plate and start listening to the workers about sex harassment and implement some worker-centered and worker-devised policies and procedures.”

Brault said that since 2016, McDonald’s workers nationwide have filed more than 100 sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits. Last year, McDonald’s rolled out new anti-harassment policies for its franchises. But worker advocates say there’s little evidence they’ve been implemented.

McDonald’s did not respond to a request for comment about the settlement. The company has denied wrongdoing, and said it’s not responsible for treatment of employees at its franchises because it doesn’t directly employ them.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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