McDonald’s to Pay $1,600,000 to Settle Sex Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit


A Vermont-based company that owns  and operates ten McDonald’s franchise restaurants in Vermont and New  Hampshire, will pay $1,600,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sex  discrimination and retaliation lawsuit  filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).


According to the lawsuit, employees  at the McDonald’s restaurant operated by Coughlin, Inc. were subjected to a  hostile working environment by a male night shift manager, who touched them  inappropriately, hit and groped their genitals, breasts and buttocks, and  subjected them to sexually explicit derogatory comments and threats of  physical harm. The employer also retaliated against at least one employee by  revoking her disability-related reasonable accommo­dation and forcing her to  quit after she complained.


All this alleged conduct violates  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful  to discriminate against employees  because of their sex or to retaliate against employees for engaging in  protected activity, including complaining about workplace sexual harassment.


An EEOC’s spokesman, said, “Protecting  vulnerable workers in the fast food industry is a strategic enforcement  priority for our district. The mostly teenage employees working at this  McDonald’s location were particularly vulner­able to sex harassment and  retaliation. The EEOC is committed to vigorously enforcing  anti-discrimination laws on behalf of all restaurant industry workers.”


The settlement provides a total of  $1,475,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages to be distributed to  employees of the restaurant who were subject to sex harassment and  retaliation.


The settlement also provides for  significant non-monetary relief designed to prevent further discrimination.  These provisions include an injunction prohibiting future discrimination;  exten­sive anti-discrimination and harassment training, including interactive  training for the company’s managers and human resources personnel; revisions  to company equal employment opportunity policies and procedures for  investigating sex harassment complaints; hiring of an independent monitor to  oversee Coughlin’s compliance with the decree; and a requirement to report  all com­plaints of sex discrimination and/or retaliation to the EEOC.  Coughlin also agreed to prohibit the manager who participated in the  harassment from entering its premises.


An EEOC spokesman said,  “Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains prevalent in the fast food  industry. We applaud Coughlin’s willingness to begin making changes necessary  to combat discrimination in its workplace and provide a safer and better  working environment for its employees, many of whom are working their first  job.”


If you or someone you know is being subject to discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation at work, please contact the attorneys at Pechman Law Group for a consultation.




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