McDonald’s employees sue for coronavirus negligence

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Five McDonald’s employees, and four of their family members, filed a class action lawsuit this week alleging that the fast-food chain wasn't providing employees with necessary protective equipment from coronavirus.

The employees involved in the suit aren’t seeking financial compensation; the suit asks that McDonald’s be required to provide employees with enough gloves, masks and hand sanitizer, in addition to training on how to prevent the spread of the virus. McDonald’s corporate office created a 59-page long coronavirus response guide for their workforce, which was shared with the Wall Street Journal.

“The damage done by McDonald’s decisions is not confined to the walls of its restaurants, but instead has broader public health consequences for the Chicago community, the state of Illinois, and the entire country,” the lawsuit said.

So far, COVID-19 has killed more than 90,000 people in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University. As the number of states deciding to reopen increases, essential employees worry whether their employers will be able to provide them with masks and adequately enforce social distancing policies to protect them from infection.

McDonald’s coronavirus guide requires its franchises to provide face masks and gloves for all employees, and to make hand sanitizer readily available to the public. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that their locations aren’t receiving enough of these items. One of the Chicago locations claimed they only received masks after striking, and afterward they were given only one mask each to wear every shift. McDonald’s disagreed with these assertions in a press release provided by the Service Employees International Union, a labor union.

“Crew and managers are the heart and soul of the restaurants in which they work, and their safety and well-being is a top priority that guides our decision making,” McDonald’s said in a statement.

The coronavirus handbook McDonald’s provided employees asks that they help enforce social distancing in the dining rooms and clean the bathrooms every half hour to prevent an outbreak. Employees also were instructed to turn off the soda fountains if they couldn’t spare an employee to operate them for guests.

This isn’t the only employee lawsuit McDonald’s could face over the pandemic; the same day, three locations in Los Angeles and San Jose sent notices of intent to sue to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. McDonald’s has 33 days to address their employees’ coronavirus-related concerns before the allegations go to court.

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Workplace safety and security Coronavirus Workforce management Litigation