McDonald’s workers forced to wear dog diapers as face masks settle lawsuit

A lawsuit over Covid-19 safety measures was settled Friday over a dispute that involved workers being forced to wear dog diapers and coffee filters as substitutes for face masks.

“Last year, when McDonald’s tried to treat us like dogs, we didn’t sit down or stay silent. We joined together and fought for our dignity as human beings — and we won,” said plaintiff Angely Lambert in a statement.

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The lawsuit alleges that workers were given coffee filters and dog diapers to wear over their faces during March 2020, and when they spoke out against it, managers gave them disposable masks “to wash and reuse” for days at a time “until they fell apart.”

The suit alleged, among other things, that managers did not enforce social distancing and performed temperature checks with a broken thermometer.   

They also told Lambert and other employees that they could not go home when they felt ill and had symptoms of Covid-19. 

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After testing revealed that the sick employees were Covid-positive, the managers also reportedly did not inform other employees of exposure in a timely manner, which led to an outbreak of Covid-19 at that McDonald’s location.

The outbreak included at least 25 positive cases at the Telegraph Avenue McDonald’s among workers and their family members, including a 10-month-old baby.

Workers went on strike in May. They sued the franchise in June. “We will keep fighting to make sure that every worker, in fast-food and beyond, has a voice on the job,” Lambert said.

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The owner of that McDonald’s restaurant did not admit any wrongdoing, and McDonald’s corporate was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

As part of the settlement, McDonald’s will be required to follow new worker safety guidelines and establish a worker safety committee. The restaurant’s owner and managers will be required to meet with workers each month to discuss maintaining worker safety. 

They will also be offering employees paid sick leave, mandating physical distancing, providing proper masks and gloves, regularly disinfecting shared surfaces, and conducting contact tracing in the event of an employee’s Covid+ test.

“While we’re confident that any outlier conduct like that alleged in these complaints does not reflect what has broadly happened and continues to happen across 14,000 U.S. McDonald’s locations, we’re no less focused on ensuring that we have clear processes and the right resources to promote the safety and wellbeing of crew and customers,” McDonald’s said in the statement.