Judge lets workers’ coronavirus lawsuit against McDonald’s proceed

The lawsuit alleges that the company failed to provide adequate protections to workers.
McDonald's Corp
Photograph by Jonathan Maze

A judge in Illinois denied a motion by McDonald’s Corp. to dismiss a case brought by five workers alleging the company didn’t provide enough equipment to protect them from the spread of the coronavirus.

Cook County Circuit Judge Eve Reilly on Wednesday denied McDonald’s motion to dismiss, allowing the lawsuit to proceed.

“We’re pleased the court has denied defendants’ motion to dismiss and ruled it will hear plaintiffs’ claims that the defendants created a public nuisance by failing to protect workers and the public from COVID-19,” Danny Rosenthal, attorney for the workers, said in a statement.

Five McDonald’s employees in Chicago, and four family members, sued the company last month, alleging that the company failed to provide enough personal protection equipment such as gloves, masks and hand sanitizer.

The lawsuit also says the company didn’t provide proper training, allow for proper social distancing or notify when workers test positive for COVID-19.

The lawsuit argues that McDonald’s efforts go against government recommendations and put workers at risk of infection.

The lawsuit is part of a broad effort on the part of workers, backed by labor groups, to push for more changes at the Chicago-based burger giant as they are considered “essential” workers during a pandemic.

The judge’s decision comes as workers at an Oakland McDonald’s have been striking for two weeks after an outbreak at a store there. McDonald’s has faced strikes at numerous locations across the country in recent weeks over the company’s coronavirus response.

For its part, McDonald’s has said it provides gloves and masks to workers, added plexiglass partitions in the drive-thru and at the front counter, and added hand sanitizer for workers and customers. The company has also said it has plenty of supply of protective equipment, including masks.

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