Workers sue McDonald’s over allegedly unsafe, violent Chicago restaurants
Loop North News

LOOP

(Above) Google Street View of McDonald’s restaurant at Adams & Wells Streets in the Loop.

6-Dec-19 – A group of restaurant workers have sued McDonald’s and several Chicago franchisees for allegedly allowing their restaurants to be too violent and dangerous, including one in the Loop.

In a complaint filed on November 21 in Cook County Circuit Court, 17 named plaintiffs alleged they “suffered physical and psychological harm from the violence they experienced while working at McDonald’s restaurants.”

The workers cited examples such as a customer jumping over a counter and threatening employees with a gun, customers disrobing, assault such as throwing kitchen equipment at workers or striking a worker with a wet floor sign, pushing an employee against the wall and spitting in their face, and “a dead body and large amounts of blood...found in the bathroom.”

Most of the restaurants are located on the West and South Sides but one is in the Loop – 180 West Adams Street, owned and operated by RMC Adams-Wells, LLC. Another is located inside McDonald’s global headquarters in the West Loop, at 1035 West Randolph Street, and is owned and operated by HQ 39148, LLC.

Google Street View

(Left) Google Street View of McDonald’s restaurant at 1035 West Randolph Street in the West Loop. (Click on image to view larger version.)

The plaintiffs said such incidents are neither random nor unforeseeable. According to the complaint, Chicago area emergency service providers take an average of more than 20 calls per day from McDonald’s restaurants.

Company skimps on security in rush to expand late-night hours, says complaint

Although the company is aware of the security risks employees face, the complaint says, it has ignored best practices for safely operating businesses open late – such as fast food restaurants – noting a major push to expand late-night hours starting in 2003.

Among the alleged flaws are tearing down or lowering counters dividing customers from workers and covering windows with advertising that makes it harder for people to see what’s happening inside.

The complaint also alleged the company and franchise operators “failed to provide even the most basic security training to most of their workers and managers” and said some managers discouraged employees from calling law enforcement “seemingly out of a misguided belief that a police presence would repel customers.”

The workers also said the physical design of restaurants, which they say is a top-down corporate decision, is “a critical factor leading to the high risk of violence.”

Although the corporation doesn’t own all the restaurants, the plaintiffs assert McDonald’s selects locations, owns or leases restaurant property, and trains all managers, including those who work at franchise stores. According to the complaint, the Chicago area has about 100 franchised McDonald’s and 30 corporately-owned restaurants.

Some of the plaintiffs say they have worked for McDonald’s for as many as ten years. One woman works at the McDonald’s inside the company’s global headquarters, which is the only location involved in the complaint open only 16 hours per day. The others are all open at least 20 hours a day and most never close.

At the McDonald’s at 1004 West Wilson Avenue (right) in the Uptown neighborhood north of the Loop, plaintiffs note that between March and September 2019, police were called to respond to violent or potentially violent incidents 29 times.

Google Street View

Between March and August 2019, there were 532 criminal incidents within a one-third-mile radius of the restaurant, which is operated by Karavites Restaurant 5895.

Formal complaints include direct and vicarious liability negligence claims against McDonald’s Corporation and McDonald’s USA, for which the workers seek an injunction forcing physical changes to restaurants to enhance worker safety as well as adequate safety training, security, and cash handling policies. They also want damages of at least $50,000 for each plaintiff.

The plaintiffs also accuse franchisee defendants of breaching a duty to workers by implementing the alleged corporately-mandated physical designs and policies in question.

By Scott Holland | Cook County Record | cookcountyrecord@gmail.com

FREE WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATE

What’s news in the Loop and Near North
neighborhoods of downtown Chicago.

Signup for our weekly email. No ads and no charge.
Just enter your email address here...

Number of subscribers:

See this week’s update