Union-backed group files workplace violence suit against McDonald’s

The lawsuit alleges that the burger giant did not protect its Chicago-area workers from abusive customers and that the chain’s updated design does little to protect employees.
Photograph: Shutterstock

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.


Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Why MOD Pizza is not out of the woods yet

The Bottom Line: The fast-casual pizza chain was sold last week to Elite Restaurant Group. But few who’ve seen the finances believe the company can avoid closing large numbers of stores.


Restaurants have a hot opportunity to improve their reputation as employers

Reality Check: New mandates for protecting workers from dangerous on-the-job heat are about to be dropped on restaurants and other employers. The industry could greatly help its labor plight by acting first.


Some McDonald's customers are doubling up on the discounts

The Bottom Line: In some markets, customers can get the fast-food chain's $5 value meal for $4. The situation illustrates a key rule in the restaurant business: Customers are savvy and will find loopholes.


More from our partners