A new class action is attempting to fry a McDonald’s franchisee for allegedly violating the city’s three-year-old paid sick leave law.
On Sept. 10, lawyer Christopher J. Williams, of the National Legal Advocacy Network, of Chicago, filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Restaurant Management Corporation (RMC). The Indiana-based company operates fast food restaurants and other eateries in Indiana and the Chicago area, including McDonald’s restaurants in the city of Chicago.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of named plaintiff Hermelinda Lopez, but the lawsuit asks the court to expand the action to include a class of all others who work at RMC-owned McDonald’s restaurants in Chicago.
According to the complaint, RMC has violated the rights of Lopez and other workers under the city’s Earned Sick Leave Ordinance.
Approved by the Chicago City Council in 2016, the ordinance, which took effect in July 2017, requires employers to provide most workers with at least one hour of paid sick time off for every 40 hours worked. The paid sick leave can be used by the employee either for their own illness or for a family member’s needs.
The ordinance also forbids employers from denying sick leave requests or taking any kind of action against employees for using their paid sick time off.
Further, the ordinance requires employers to keep employees informed of their rights under the ordinance and to let workers know how many paid sick leave hours available to them.
However, in this case, the plaintiffs asserted RMC allegedly violated the ordinance in multiple ways. According to the complaint, managers at Lopez’s restaurant refused to pay Lopez for a day off to take her son to the emergency room for a broken ankle or for time off to care for her sick daughter. The complaint also said managers initially did not honor her request for paid sick leave when she said she was too sick to work.
The complaint further accuses RMC managers of requiring employees to produce a note from a doctor when they take paid sick time. If they do not, the complaint asserts employees are told they could be suspended for three days.
The complaint asserts the alleged policies “have unlawfully stripped” workers of their paid sick leave, under the city ordinance, and of “their right to be able to take care of themselves and their family members in a time of need.”
The complaint asks the court to order RMC to pay “liquidated monetary damages” for each alleged violation of the ordinance, plus attorney fees.