This morning, a group of McDonald's workers in Virginia filed a lawsuit against the company, accusing it of ignoring "rampant racial and sexual harassment" happening in its stores. Ugly details below.
The lawsuit is backed by both the local NAACP chapter in South Boston, Virginia and the organized labor groups that have been leading the ongoing fight to increase wages for fast food workers nationwide. In this sense, the suit constitutes one more front in the battle to apply enough pressure to the McDonald's monolith to convince it to make major concessions to its poverty-stricken work force.
McDonald's operates on a franchise system, and has long been able to avoid taking responsibility as a corporation for the actions of individual franchisees. That responsibility dodge is crumbling now, thanks in part to a recent government ruling that the company "could be held jointly liable for labor and wage violations by its franchise operators." Today's lawsuit seeks to do exactly that: establish a chain of responsibility leading up to the corporate offices From the suit filed today in Virginia district court:
The specific allegations of the ten plaintiffs—nine black and one Latino—include casually vicious racism and sexual harassment and on-the-job discrimination.
Any former McDonald's employee (hello) will likely not be surprised by the alleged existence of racism and sexual harassment inside a McDonald's restaurant. But if these plaintiffs can show that the corporate leadership ignored these complaints, something might actually change.