How Diapers Led To A Lawsuit Against One McDonald's Franchise

While most people associate McDonald's with orders of burgers, fries, and McFlurrys, the national chain also gets its fair share of fresh lawsuits. 

The fast food giant has been the defendant in cases as random as the class action lawsuit over its vanilla cones to more serious allegations including Black employees suing McDonald's for racial discrimination. Recently, there's also been another pretty bizarre reason McDonald's was sued in Russia, in a case involving religion and Lent.

In the United States, a McDonald's franchise in Oakland, California is one of the latest targets to be served, as of June 2020, alleging that management didn't provide workers with proper COVID-19 safety precautions, as reported by the New York Times. According to workers at this particular location, they were given masks "made with dog diapers and coffee filters" at the beginning of the pandemic. Although the staff was eventually given proper disposable masks, management told them that they should reuse and wash them.

The New York Times also explained in their article that managers told one former employee, Angely Rodriguez Lambert, to continue her shift even after she felt sick — and she later tested positive for COVID-19 as the location was the center an outbreak of the virus affecting at least 25 people.

The lawsuit has been settled and resulted in the formation of a worker-management committee

Rather than sue the corporate entity, workers at this McDonald's location in the Bay Area of California sued the franchise owner Michael Smith after going on strike, which shut down the business for several weeks, according to the New York Times and EPI.

Bloomberg Law reports that the lawsuit was settled August 12, and resulting provisions include the enforcement of COVID-19 safety precautions, like contact tracing and paid sick leave. Another part of the settlement is the formation of a management-worker committee to discuss the current precautions and see how well they're being met — and to create new policies if necessary.

The McDonald's corporation also sent a statement to the New York Times about the lawsuit, writing, "While we're confident that any outlier conduct like that alleged in these complaints does not reflect what has broadly happened and continues to happen across 14,000 US McDonald's locations, we're no less focused on ensuring that we have clear processes and the right resources to promote the safety and well-being of crew and customers."

For their part, the workers also made a statement, picked up by Bloomberg Law: "First, we made history by going on strike and shutting down our store for over a month," said employee Angely Rodriguez Lambert. "Now, we've made history again by winning a worker safety committee that will let us make decisions about how to keep ourselves and our customers safe."