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Former McDonald's Employee Sues Over Sexual Harassment; 'I Was Constantly In Fear Of Losing My Job'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- McDonald's is being accused of not being tough enough on allegations of sexual harassment at its restaurants.

"It started off little things, like just touching me on the shoulder or something like that, and then it escalated. You know, I was constantly being groped, called horrible names," said former McDonald's employee Jenna Ries.

Last week, the Chicago-based company fired CEO Steve Easterbook, who admitted having an inappropriate relationship with an employee.

Now former McDonald's worker Jenna Ries is pursuing a class-action lawsuit against the fast food chain and one of its Michigan franchisees, claiming she endured daily sexual harassment.

Ries said she had to force herself to go to work every day at a McDonald's franchise in Mason, Michigan, where from 2017 to 2019, Ries said she endured daily harassment. Her lawsuit alleges a co-worker "frequently grabbed her body parts, including her crotch, breasts and buttocks."

"I was called, like, a b---h and a slut and a whore. All kinds of things. I was constantly in fear of losing my job," Ries said.

Ries said she complained to her store manager multiple times, but nothing was done. Finally, in March of this year, she quit.

"They just brushed it off. They kept on saying that they would talk to them, they would deal with it, but there was never any talking, there was never any dealing," Ries said.

Ries' allegations are the latest in a series of sexual harassment complaints levied at McDonald's, with the company facing more than 50 complaints and lawsuits from workers around the country. Ries' lawsuit said it's indicative of a "sexually hostile work environment" and the "company culture that enables it."

In an email to CBS News, McDonald's said it is committed to a "safe and respectful workplace."

The franchise owner did not respond to a request for comment.

In June, the company began offering a reporting hotline, enhanced its policies against discrimination, harassment and retaliation and introduced new training. But franchisees, who own 95% of McDonald's U.S. restaurants, aren't required to offer this training.

Earlier this month, the company fired CEO Steve Easterbrook for having a romantic relationship with a subordinate.

"Jenna Ries is just as valuable and the Jenna Ries's of their corporation should be valued as much as the CEO," said Mary Joyce Carlson, a labor lawyer representing women suing McDonald's.

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