A McDonald’s franchise has settled a dispute with staff over workplace safety, the NYT reported.
Workers accused bosses of giving them face masks made of dog diapers and coffee filters.
Lawyers declined to say whether the settlement included compensation. The franchise owner denies wrongdoing.
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A McDonald’s franchise has reportedly settled a dispute with workers who accused bosses of handing out face masks made from dog diapers, The New York Times reported Thursday.
The original complaint, filed in the Superior Court of the State of California in June 2020, said that bosses at the restaurant in Oakland, California, also gave staff masks made out of coffee filters.
The filing named Michael Smith, the franchise’s owner, as one of the defendants in the case. McDonald’s Corporation was not listed at a defendant.
Lawyers for both sides had reached a settlement, The Times reported Thursday. The restaurant had agreed to social-distancing measures, contact tracing, and paid sick leave, The Times reported.
Both sets of lawyers declined to tell The Times whether the settlement included financial compensation, which the workers’ initial legal complaint asked for.
Smith denied all of the accusations and said the settlement did not mean that he admitted any wrongdoing, per The Times.
Read more: A McDonald’s worker accuses the chain of firing her after she protested against a lack of masks and other safety concerns in a new whistleblower lawsuit
Plaintiffs said in the complaint that in May and June 2020, at least 11 workers caught COVID-19 while working at the store, and that some had passed the virus on to their families.
Bosses provided proper masks once employees complained, but required staff to “use them for multiple days” and to “wash and reuse them until they fell apart,” the filing said.
“We were being treated like dogs – giving us dog diapers to use as masks,” Angely Rodriguez Lambert, one of the suit’s plaintiffs, told The Times through an interpreter.
Smith told The Times that he started implementing safety measures “over a year ago” and that he would “continue to take all necessary steps to ensure that our stores remain as safe as possible.”
In June 2020, a California judge granted a temporary court order mandating the franchise owners to improve their COVID-19 safety measures, which included giving employees “adequate and sufficient masks” and deep cleaning the store.
The new settlement included a monthly meeting between restaurant managers and workers to discuss safety compliance, per The Times.
McDonald’s said in an emailed statement to Insider: “While we’re confident that any outlier conduct like that alleged in this complaint does not reflect what has broadly happened and continues to happen across 14,000 U.S. McDonald’s locations, we’re no less focused on ensuring that we have clear processes and the right resources to promote the safety and wellbeing of crew and customers.”
Lawyers for both sides did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Many workers have complained about unsafe working conditions during the pandemic. Some fast-food employees told Insider in March 2020 that they feared catching the virus and passing it onto their families.
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