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McDonald's Workers Across Country To Walk Off Job On Tuesday After Sexual Assault Of 14-Year-Old Girl At Bethel Park Store

BETHEL PARK, Pa. (KDKA) -- McDonald's and its franchisees had already been under fire across the country for hundreds of sexual harassment allegations, but the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in a Bethel Park store has galvanized a movement in places like Chicago, St. Louis and Tampa, Florida.

"Nationwide, it has just caused a flurry of outrage. This is a prime motivation for the strikes that are going to go next day or so in 10 cities," said Alan Perer, the family's attorney.

The sickening details emerged in a civil suit filed by the girl's parents after she was lured into a bathroom at the Bethel Park store and sexually assaulted by her manager, 42-year-old Walter A. Garner. Charged with rape, Garner's attorneys last week negotiated a plea of indecent sexual assault and corruption of a minor. Judge Jill Rangos sentenced him to four to 10 years in prison.

"He served time in jail for molesting a 10 year old, was permanently listed on Megan's Law, and he was hired to supervise under-aged women. It's outrageous," Perer said.

The store in question is one of eight McDonald's franchises owned and operated by Rice Enterprises, a local limited liability corporation. While McDonald's has sexual harassment training for managers in its corporate stores, it hasn't required the training at its independent stores. In a statement to KDKA, Rice Enterprises said it's in the process.

"Every single person working at a McDonald's restaurant deserves to feel safe and respected when they come to work, and sexual harassment and assault have no place in any McDonald's restaurant. We know more work is needed to further our workplace ambitions, which is why all 40,000 McDonald's restaurants will be assessed and accountable to Global Brand Standards," the statement said.

KDKA's Andy Sheehan: But too late for your client.
Perer: Too late. And as a matter, of fact, they haven't done anything yet.

Rice Enterprises said all employees undergo "safe and respectful workplace training," but KDKA has learned that back in December the family of a then-17-year-old girl filed suit alleging she was raped at a Brentwood store that is owned and operated by Rice Enterprises.

Police did not charge anyone, and the case has been settled out of court. Still, Perer said it's one more reason change is needed.

"Time for McDonald's to protect young women working in these stores and take charge and make it safe for these young people," Perer said.

On Monday, Rice Enterprises did issue a statement about the Garner case, saying the organization has "no tolerance for sexual harassment and we terminated the employee in question as soon as we learned about a complaint against him."

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