The union-backed Fight for $15 coalition is behind a class-action lawsuit filed Thursday against McDonald’s, in which some of the burger giant’s employees allege that the chain did little to protect them from rampant violence in its restaurants.
The suit, filed in Illinois’ Circuit Court of Cook County by 17 Chicago-area McDonald’s workers against the McDonald’s Corp. and several franchisees, lays out an “epidemic of workplace violence issues” at stores and says that the chain’s “Experience of the Future” remodels leave employees especially open to abusive customers.
The suit’s plaintiffs allege multiple incidents of on-the-job violence, including being threatened at gunpoint, having kitchen equipment thrown at them by a naked customer, receiving lewd comments, being spit on, being groped, and seeing blood and a dead body in a bathroom.
Workers claimed that their restroom-cleaning duties are particularly dangerous because bathrooms are often in secluded areas in the restaurants.
The McDonald’s Corp. said in a statement that it works on several different fronts to keep its employees safe.
“McDonald’s takes seriously its responsibility to provide and foster a safe working environment for our employees, and along with our franchisees, continue to make investments in training programs that uphold safe environments for customers and crew members,” the company said. “In addition to training, McDonald’s maintains stringent policies against violence in our restaurants.”
The Chicago-based chain did not say whether it planned to contest the lawsuit.
McDonald’s had asked that operators remodel their stores to fit the kiosk-heavy Experience of the Future design by next year but is now granting extensions.
The labor-backed Fight for $15 group has staged multiple actions recently against quick-service chains, including McDonald’s.