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Minnesota Department of Human Rights sues McDonald’s for workplace sexual assault and harassment

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The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) filed to join a lawsuit against Hyder Investments, Inc., a McDonald’s franchisee, for violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act by fostering a culture of sexual harassment that led to a manager sexually assaulting a minor employee.

“Workers — especially young workers — have the right to be safe at work. Here, McDonald’s failed to create a safe workplace when a manager repeatedly sexually assaulted a 14-year-old worker,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. “Employers must create a culture where its employees can work with dignity, free from sexual harassment and assault. This lawsuit is a reminder that, in fact, employers have a legal obligation to do so.”

The complaint describes how in 2018, while working at a Maple Grove McDonald’s, a 24-year-old manager used his position of power to groom a 14-year-old employee for a sexual relationship and repeatedly sexually assaulted her at the restaurant.

According to the complaint, there were several instances where employees in positions of authority failed to act. At least two supervisors were aware of the inappropriate relationship and did nothing. Even after the police arrested the manager at the restaurant for criminal sexual conduct, the company only fired him for bringing marijuana to work – not for sexually harassing or assaulting the employee.

Additionally, the company’s sexual harassment policies were ineffective and not provided to employees. For example, the policy said that someone could call and report sexual harassment, but provided a fake telephone number, XXX-XXX-XXXX, made up solely of the letter “X” instead of an actual phone number.

In requesting to join the lawsuit, MDHR is seeking structural change to ensure employees at all McDonald’s locations are provided a safe work environment free from sexual harassment and assault.

This lawsuit is one of many that have been filed across the country against McDonald’s franchisees for sexual harassment. Recently, the EEOC sued a McDonald’s franchisee for sexual harassment of young workers in Nevada, Arizona, and California. A Pittsburgh-based franchisee was also sued after a manager, who was a registered sex offender, sexually assaulted a minor employee.

The complaint was filed today in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District Court in Hennepin County. The employee, represented by attorneys with Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben and Conard Nelson Schaffer, initiated this lawsuit on December 10, 2021.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is the state’s civil rights enforcement agency. If you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment or any other type of discrimination covered under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, call the Discrimination Helpline at 1-833-454-0148 or submit this online form.

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