McDonald’s franchisee settles sexual harassment lawsuit for $1.6M
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McDonald’s franchisee settles sexual harassment lawsuit for $1.6M

The Office of the Vermont Attorney General and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Friday announced the approval of a USD 1.6 million settlement in a workplace sexual harassment lawsuit. The case is in the US District Court for the District of Vermont.

Coughlin, Inc. is a McDonald’s restaurant franchisee that owns and operates 10 locations in Vermont and New Hampshire. The EEOC sued Coughlin in March 2021 for failing to protect workers at a Vermont restaurant location from a manager who sexually harassed them over several years. The EEOC asserted that Coughlin violated section 703(a)(1) of Title VII, 42 USC § 2000e-2(a)(1). Vermont’s AG Office later intervened in the lawsuit and asserted that Coughlin violated Vermont’s Fair Employment Practices Act.

The approved settlement requires that Coughlin pay USD 1.6 million in damages and state penalties. It also requires that the franchisee substantially reform its business practices. Coughlin will establish a settlement fund of USD 1.2 million to provide compensation to the victims of the harassment and pay USD 125,000 to the state of Vermont. A sum of USD 275,000 will go to the estate of one of the victims. This is Vermont’s first-ever joint state/federal employment discrimination lawsuit.

In April, a Michigan McDonald’s franchisee settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for USD 1.5 million.