McDonald’s Franchise Owner Consents to $1.6M Settlement of Sex Harassment Suit

July 1, 2022
New You can now listen to Insurance Journal articles!

Coughlin, Inc., a Vermont-based company that owns 10 McDonald’s franchise restaurants in Vermont and New Hampshire, will pay $1,600,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the state of Vermont, and the estate of a former employee.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, employees at the Randolph, Vermont McDonald’s location were subjected to a hostile working environment by a male night shift manager, who touched them inappropriately, hit and groped their genitals, breasts and buttocks, and subjected them to sexually explicit derogatory comments and threats of physical harm.

The employer also retaliated against at least one employee by revoking her disability-related reasonable accommoĀ­dation and forcing her to quit after she complained, the EEOC charged.

EEOC said this alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees because of their sex or to retaliate against employees for engaging in protected activity, including complaining about workplace sexual harassment.

The EEOC filed suit in March, 2021, in U.S. District Court in Vermont after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The estate of former employee Jennie Lumbra and the state of Vermont filed suit shortly after the EEOC.

The five-year consent decree provides a total of $1,475,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages to be distributed to employees of the restaurant who were subject to sex harassment and retaliation, as well as $275,000 to the estate of Lumbra, the employee who filed the original charge of discrimination with the EEOC.

Additionally, Coughlin will pay $125,000 to the state of Vermont in civil penalties.

The decree also includes an injunction prohibiting future discrimination; anti-discrimination and harassment training for the company’s managers and human resources personnel; and revisions to company equal employment opportunity policies.

Coughlin also agreed to prohibit the manager who participated in the harassment from entering its premises.

Coughlin and the plaintiffs agreed to the decree without the court having entered findings of fact or conclusions of law.

Topics Lawsuits

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.