An Oakland McDonald’s restaurant franchise will be required by law to establish a worker safety committee and adhere to new worker safety guidelines as part of a settlement with workers who were told to use dog diapers and coffee filters as face masks.
Over 25 employees at the Telegraph Avenue McDonald’s contracted COVID-19 last spring. This does not include family members.
The remaining non-managerial staff at the franchise subsequently went on strike for over 33 days—possibly the longest employee strike in McDonald’s history.
The workers, who filed a public nuisance lawsuit, told reporters that McDonald’s managers told cooks and cashiers to use dog diapers and coffee filters instead of actual masks, used an inaccurate thermometer before the start of shifts but did not enforce social distancing.
“Last year, when McDonald’s tried to treat us like dogs, we didn’t sit down or stay silent,” said Angely Lambert, one of five plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “We joined together and fought for our dignity as human beings — and we won.”
As a result of the settlement, the McDonald’s location will be required to follow various safety measures, including offering employees paid sick leave, mandating physical distancing, providing proper masks and gloves, regularly disinfecting shared surfaces, and conducting contact tracing when a case of the virus is confirmed in an employee.
As part of the worker safety committee, the restaurant’s owner and managers will meet with workers each month to discuss ways to maintain worker safety.