Vt. McDonald's owner settles with Sorrell

John O'Brien Jun. 25, 2008, 10:50am

MONTPELIER, Vt. (Legal Newsline) - A sexual harassment suit steered by Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell has been settled, and the operator of McDonald's restaurants in Rutland will pay for public service announcements instead of penalties to the State.

A McDonald's supervisor employed by Coughlin, Inc., was charged with sexually harassing a female employee. Sorrell says the employee and manager supporting her complaint were retaliated against or fired.

Two complaints were filed with Sorrrell's Civil Rights Unit.

"I am pleased that Coughlin responded to these serious charges by working to resolve the matters and educate its employees and managers," Sorrell said. "In restaurants, sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment can become a serious problem."

As a result of the settlement, Coughlin will:

-Revise its policies regarding filing, investigating and responding to complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation;

-Create a video or online training program for all employees;

-Develop a system to ensure training occurs during employee's first day of employment or promotion to manager;

-Hire an independent auditor to review records and actions of Rutland McDonald's restaurants for three years;

-Contribute up to 5,000 to develop and sponsor, with the Civil Rights Unit, two Youth at Work Rights and Responsibilities events in Rutland and another town, and to run Youth at Work advertisements on a Rutland bus route;

-Pay Sorrell's office $15,000 in investigative costs.

The two plaintiffs recently settled their claims with Coughlin.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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