McDonald’s Franchisee to Pay $4.4M for Teen’s Sexual Assault
A franchisee of a well-known fast food chain has reached a settlement of $4.4 million with a teenage girl who filed a lawsuit after being sexually assaulted by a restaurant manager in the Pittsburgh area.
The manager was a registered sex offender. The victim’s lawyers made the announcement on Monday.
A settlement has been reached between the young individual, who was 14 years old during the 2021 incident of sexual assault, and Rice Enterprises LLC, a McDonald’s franchisee.
The agreement provides compensation for the assault that occurred in the restaurant bathroom, involving Walter A. Garner.
At the time, Garner, now 44, had a history of criminal offenses and was registered on the Megan’s Law website for a serious offense involving a minor.
Garner admitted guilt in 2021 for statutory sexual assault, indecent assault, and other offenses related to the incident at McDonald’s.
Currently, Garner is serving a sentence in a state prison.
A message was left on Monday for the public defenders who represented him in that case and in the 2003 case that was resolved with a guilty plea to aggravated indecent assault and other charges, seeking comment.
The lawsuit played a significant role in motivating workers in 12 U.S. cities to go on strike in October 2021.
Their aim was to push the company to take more effective measures in addressing the persistent issue of sexual harassment and violence in McDonald’s stores.
McDonald’s Fires Employee Amidst Allegations
According to a McDonald’s spokesperson, Rice Enterprises promptly terminated Garner’s employment upon becoming aware of the allegations against him in 2021.
The individual started their employment at a McDonald’s in Bethel Park in October 2020 at the age of 14.
She mentioned that she had not received any training on sexual harassment or the proper procedures for reporting it.
According to the lawsuit, it is alleged that Garner made inappropriate comments and engaged in inappropriate physical contact before the incident in mid-February 2021.
In April 2021, Garner was apprehended following a report made by another McDonald’s employee to the school administrators, who then contacted the police, according to the lawsuit.
Alan Perer, the lawyer representing the girl and her parents in the Allegheny County civil litigation, expressed concerns about the hiring of a sex offender to oversee high school girls.
McDonald’s USA expressed deep concern over the girl’s assault, emphasizing their strong stance against violence and sexual harassment in a statement.
The company emphasized its dedication to supporting franchisees by providing them with comprehensive training resources to address and prevent harassment.