Ten former McDonald’s employees are suing a Virginia franchisee, the franchise owner, McDonald’s Corp., and McDonald’s USA. The suit alleges that supervisors at three Virginia franchise locations were racist, sexually harassed employees, and wrongfully terminated employees. The result of the lawsuit will not only establish whether these allegations are true, but it will determine the extent to which the McDonald’s Corporation may be held liable for its franchisees’ actions.
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Virginia, alleges that supervisors called black and Hispanic employees inappropriate, racially-charged names, sent employees inappropriate pictures, and touched employees inappropriately. The suit also claims that supervisors fired Hispanic and black employees who did not “fit the profile” the restaurant was looking for. According to the former employees, when they complained about these acts to the McDonald’s corporate office, the company did nothing. According to the plaintiffs, McDonalds should pay them damages because the corporation sets company-wide policies and has the power to enforce them. Be sure to consult a franchise lawyer if you believe your franchise may be in violation of your employees legal rights.
Last year, the California Supreme Court held that the Domino’s Pizza chain could not be held responsible for a franchise employee’s alleged sexual harassment in Redding of another employee of one of its stores. According to the California Court, the franchise agreement left all personnel decisions up to the store owner. McDonald’s and other fast-food chains have held the position that they are immune from such liability because although they set certain standards, they allow franchisees to make decisions on issues such as scheduling, personnel, and wages.
Notably, a month before the Dominos decision, that National Labor Relations Board decided another case involving McDonald’s, saying that the company can be held jointly liable under federal law for wage violations at its restaurants.
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