By Patrick Thomas

 

A group of Chicago-area McDonald's Corp. (MCD) workers sued the fast-food chain on Thursday, accusing it of not doing enough to protect employees against violent incidents at its restaurants.

The lawsuit alleges that McDonald's stores open overnight lack certain safety best practices for late-night businesses. The complaint argues the stores should have physical barriers between workers and customers and that drive-thru windows should be designed to prevent customers from being able to enter through the window.

The complaint also alleges that restaurant windows and doors plastered with advertising materials make workers more susceptible to robberies.

A company spokeswoman said McDonald's takes its responsibility to provide a safe working environment for its employees seriously and, along with its franchisees, continues to make investments in training programs that bolster the safety of its customers and employees.

"In addition to training, McDonald's maintains stringent policies against violence in our restaurants," a company spokeswoman said

The suit, filed in state court in Cook County, Ill. by 17 employees, focuses on 13 corporate- and franchise-owned McDonald's restaurants in the Chicago area.

At a McDonald's where three of the plaintiffs worked, the suit alleges that the restaurant lowered the height of its check-out counter in 2018, leading to several instances of customers jumping on top of or over it, including one where a customer hopped over and waved a gun at workers.

"McDonald's has failed, at a systemic level, to protect its workers from violence in the workplace," Danny Rosenthal, one of the plaintiff's attorneys, said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union and a group of workers from Michigan accused the fast-food giant in a lawsuit of not properly handling allegations of sexual harassment at one of its restaurants.

The company has said it has demonstrated its commitment to safe and respectful workplaces by implementing antiharassment training at all of its corporate-owned restaurants.

The company strengthened the training and protocol for reporting potential employee misconduct this year for its roughly 850,000 U.S. employees.

The company has faced additional challenges at its U.S. restaurants this year. Labor organizers and some lawmakers have called on the company to address workplace harassment issues and raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

 

Write to Patrick Thomas at patrick.thomas@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 21, 2019 11:02 ET (16:02 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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