Weeks after McDonald's fired former CEO Steve Easterbrook for having a relationship with an employee, 17 Chicago-area workers are suing the fast food giant over what they call a "citywide and nationwide pattern” of violence.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in Illinois state court claims corporate officials have chosen profit over workers' safety, alleging that employees “face a daily risk of violence while at work” and McDonald’s has been “negligent in failing to protect workers from this risk.”
The suit points to high rates of 911 calls from Chicago McDonald’s restaurants with more than 20 calls a day.
Incidents outlined in the lawsuit include a customer who jumped over the counter and pulled a gun on workers, a customer beating an employee over the head and back with a heavy wet-floor sign, and in another instance, a customer urinating on a worker.
McDonald's officials could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday morning.
Sonia Acuña, a McDonald’s worker and plaintiff in the suit, said in a news release that police found a dead body in her store's bathroom.
“McDonald’s never provided any safety training or offered any support for the trauma I’ve suffered," she said. "We shouldn’t have to put ourselves in harm’s way just to support our families. That’s why we’re suing McDonald’s today – because it’s life or death for us.”
Many of the lawsuit's claims were mentioned in a May 2019 report from the National Employment Law Project, which said "McDonald's is failing in its legal duty to provide employees a safe work environment."
The report asserted that McDonald’s long hours of operations "put thousands of workers at risk due to the high levels of violence associated with late-night retail" and found more than 720 violent incidents were covered by news media in a three-year period.
Danny Rosenthal, the lead attorney in the lawsuit, said in a statement the "Chicago area is a prototypical case.”
“McDonald’s has failed, at a systemic level, to protect its workers from violence in the workplace,” said Rosenthal, a partner at Washington D.C.-based James & Hoffman. “Throughout the country, McDonald’s workers are regularly threatened, assaulted, and injured by customers. You only need to do a Google news search for McDonald’s and crime to find hundreds of examples."
McDonald's isn't the only fast food chain with violent incidents.
Earlier this month, two Maryland men got into a fight over a Popeyes chicken sandwich and one of them was stabbed to death.