The Service Employees International Union said the burger giant illegally retaliated against the worker, Maria Ruiz, because of her workplace activism, according to a complaint it filed Wednesday with the
McDonald’s said via email that the claims “are untrue and cannot be substantiated.” Instead, the company said the employee was terminated because she falsely reported an unrelated safety violation, fabricated evidence and lied during the investigation.
As the pandemic has swept across the U.S., it has
Federal labor law restricts companies from threatening or retaliating against employees for collective action related to workplace conditions.
Ruiz led a series of walkouts beginning in April calling on McDonald’s to provide safety items such as masks and soap at work, she said in an interview. “McDonald’s said that we were essential workers, but then we had to go on strike for them to provide us proper protective equipment.”
Ruiz, a 16-year employee, said she hadn’t noticed any friction with her employer until she got involved with SEIU’s “Fight for $15” campaign, after which she said her hours started getting cut. SEIU, whose campaign pushes to hike pay and win unionization at companies like McDonald’s, said in its complaint that Ruiz was ultimately fired “for her advocacy for workers’ safety” and her organizing efforts, not the reason offered by the company.
Ruiz also denied McDonald’s assertions about why she was fired.
The complaint comes about a month after the union
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