Freeman was one of five employees who sued McDonald’s last month in Illinois state court over working conditions at restaurants during the pandemic. Similar lawsuits have been filed by workers in other “essential” industries during stay-AG亚洲国际游戏home orders, including by those at an Amazon.com Inc. warehouse in New York.
McDonald’s didn’t immediately provide a comment in response to an inquiry from Bloomberg.
While Freeman worked at a restaurant owned by a McDonald’s franchisee, the NLRB claim also targets the corporation itself as a “joint employer” -- a company with sufficient control to be legally liable.
In their lawsuit last month, Freeman and the others accused McDonald’s and franchise owners of violating state nuisance and negligence laws. They claimed they didn’t get adequate safety training, were forced to work in close contact with each other and were told to reuse protective gloves. The company has said that it had updated nearly 50 safety procedures since the pandemic, including providing wellness checks, protective barriers, gloves and masks.
The McDonald’s lawsuit was filed with the help of the SEIU, whose “Fight For $15 and a Union” campaign has been working for years to organize employees at McDonald’s and the rest of the nearly union-free fast-food industry. The campaign said Freeman was fired for his participation in the lawsuit and for other efforts to organize workers.
Freeman and McDonald’s workers in Chicago are planning strikes and protests targeting the company’s restaurants in conjunction with the Movement for Black Lives on Friday, the “Juneteenth” holiday that commemorates the abolition of slavery.
“On the one hand, McDonald’s tweets that Black Lives Matter, and on the other it fires a Black worker for speaking out about feeling unsafe on the job,” Allynn Umel, the organizing director of the “Fight for $15 and a Union” campaign, said in an emailed statement.