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McDonald’s Workers in Chicago Say Company Isn’t Protecting Them From Coronavirus

— May 21, 2020

One of the plaintiffs in the prospective class action said she was diagnosed with coronavirus–and that her managers did nothing to inform co-workers she might have exposed.

A group of McDonald’s employees from Chicago have filed a class action against the fast food company, claiming the chain has not done enough to protect workers from novel coronavirus.

According to Reuters, the lawsuit was filed in an Illinois state court earlier this week. The complaint alleges that McDonald’s has, among other things, failed to provide adequate hand sanitizer to its employees.

Furthermore, the lawsuit also says workers are not provided with gloves or masks. And whenever an employee is diagnosed with coronavirus, local management does not inform the infected individual’s coworkers.

“McDonald’s has failed to take adequate steps in response to the pandemic,” the suit states. “The damage done by inadequate safety practices is not confined to the walls of a restaurant, but instead has broader public health consequences for the Chicago community.”

The prospective class action is asking an Illinois court to issue an injunction against McDonald’s. Such an injunction would, among other things, require the chain to stop its practice of forcing employees to continuously re-use face masks.

McDonald’s sing. Image via Flickr/user:jeepersmedia (Mike Mozart). (CCA-BY-2.0).

McDonald’s, however, has maintained that the allegations against it are “inaccurate characterizations […] which do not represent the actual realities in our 14,000 restaurants around the country.”

“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 USA said in a statement.

However, several employees at Chicago-area restaurants told the Chicago Tribune that they have seen the company’s neglect first-hand. Taynarvis Massey, for instance, works at a McDonald’s in the South Side’s Bronzeville neighborhood. At the end of April, Massey fell sick and tested positive for coronavirus. When Massey returned to work, she gave managers a “copy” of her coronavirus test results; but her supervisors did nothing to ensure that her co-workers knew of a potential in-store exposure.

“The only way my co-workers found out I as sick, and they had possibly been exposed to COVID-19, was by reading my Facebook post,” Massey said in a statement.

The lawsuit notes that many Chicago-area McDonald’s have not implemented any form of social distancing in their “crowded” kitchens, either—meaning it is all too easy for a respiratory disease like coronavirus to spread among employees.

But when Maria Villasenor, who works at a McDonald’s on Cermak Road, tried to tell her managers that many of her co-workers appeared to be ill and coughing, they simply told everyone to “cover their mouths when they sneeze.”

Nevertheless, McDonald’s continues to stick to its story, saying it has implemented dozens of new procedures to combat the spread of coronavirus in its restaurants.

“PPE is in ample supply for all restaurants, as masks, gloves and protective barriers are required at all restaurants; to-date, more than 100 million masks have been distributed to crew,” the company said in a statement.


Chicago McDonald’s workers file class-action lawsuit alleging COVID-19 failures put employees and customers at risk

U.S. workers hit McDonald’s with class action over COVID-19 safety

Workers file class-action lawsuit against McDonald’s over coronavirus precautions

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