McDonald’s Franchisee Settles EEOC Sex Harassment Lawsuit
Credle Enterprises to Pay $340,000 to Resolve Claims of Physical and Verbal Harassment of Female Employees
DALLAS - Credle Enterprises, LLC, doing business as McDonald's in the Texas panhandle, will pay $340,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, eight women who worked for the company were subjected to sexual harassment. The EEOC charged that two male employees, one of whom was the general manager, subjected the female employees to physical touching, sexual jokes and the display of pornographic images. The EEOC also charged that although management was aware of the harassment, no action was taken to prevent it from continuing.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex-based discrimination made unlawful by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division (EEOC v. Credle Enterprises, LLC d/b/a McDonald's, Civil Action No. 5:18-CV-00239-C), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The four-year consent decree settling the suit, signed on November 21, 2019 by U.S. District Court Judge Wes Hendrix, calls for the company to provide $240,000 in monetary relief to eight women who were subjected to sexual harassment, and includes an additional class distribution fund of $100,000 for administration by the EEOC to any other female employees subjected to harassment who were employed with the company during the relevant time.
Beyond the monetary terms of resolution, the decree requires the employer to implement measures to guard against sexual harassment going forward. Such measures include the designation of a managerial employee who will be responsible for ensuring that Credle employees are trained on their rights and responsibilities under Title VII, as well as the company's policies and procedures on harassment, and for conducting investigations of all complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation.
The company will also conduct detailed annual sexual harassment training for all employees that encompasses topics such as respect and civility in the workplace; the ways in which employees can report unwelcome workplace behavior; how an employee who believes she has witnessed harassment can appropriately intervene; and the consequences of engaging in inappropriate conduct.
"This case represents the best of all outcomes for the parties involved," said EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan Kuelbs. "Not only have the women who were subjected to the harassment been compensated for the harm they suffered, but the employer has committed itself to changing its workplace in a meaningful way so that current and future employees feel that they will be protected from this kind of inappropriate behavior."
EEOC Dallas District Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino added, "If management does not have an effective policy and complaint procedure in place, sex harassment can become a hostile environment claim. Emphasis on prevention and promptness in response to complaints is a message that should come from the top."
Credle Enterprises, LLC d/b/a McDonald's operates three McDonald's franchises in northwest Texas. In addition to its location in Muleshoe, Credle Enterprises, LLC operates McDonald's stores in Hereford and Littlefield.
The EEOC's Dallas District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and litigation in Texas and parts of New Mexico.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.