A former employee is suing McDonald's in Multnomah County Circuit Court for unlawful employment practices, alleging a manager humiliated her and forced her to return to work after she pooped in her pants during her shift.
Kari Phillips alleges that her former employer unlawfully terminated her employment and refused to accommodate her frequent bathroom needs while she suffered from a stomach ailment.
Phillips worked at the time of the incident at a McDonald's in Oregon City. When she woke up suffering from a stomach ailment on the morning of April 26 and called her the restaurant to request that someone cover her shift, one of her managers allegedly told her she had to come in but would allow her to use restroom breaks whenever needed.
Twice in the first few hours of her shift, Phillips says in the suit, Phillips requested to use the restroom but was told to wait. The first time, Phillips made it to the restroom in time. The second time, Phillips says she was ordered to wait for 25 minutes after her request to take a break. She says she defecated in her pants while heading to the restroom.
Another one of her managers, Elizabeth Arias, told Phillips she had to keep working.
"As she returned [to work], she was met with management staring and laughing at her expense. After starting an interaction with a customer, plaintiff soon realized that she could not continue and she again requested to leave to go home and clean up," the lawsuit reads. "Plaintiff was then pulled into Elizabeth Arias' office where Arias yelled at plaintiff that she needed to return to work. […] Plaintiff offered to return to work after changing her pants but Elizabeth Arias refused."
Arias allegedly threatened Phillips that if she didn't continue working, she would be fired. Phillips left the restaurant, upset. She was then fired.
"McDonald's and Elizabeth Arias' behavior as alleged in this complaint violated Oregon law and unnecessarily risked exposing McDonald's customers to unsanitary conditions and caused plaintiff severe ongoing humiliation and disgust that no employee should have to experience, no matter what job they have," the lawsuit reads.
Portland lawyer Michael Fuller represents Phillips. Fuller says the manager's behavior was "immature and outrageous," and says his client told him that she needed the job.
"She told me that she loved this job and needed this job and that it broke her heart," Fuller tells WW.
The lawsuit claims that McDonalds management took part in whistleblower retaliation, violation of Oregon sick leave laws and wrongful termination of employment.
Phillips is requesting a maximum of $250,000 in non-economic damages and will seek punitive damages as the lawsuit moves forward.
The McDonald's corporate office could not be reached for comment.
Fuller says he's filed roughly six lawsuits against McDonald's so far this year. Most of the cases, he says, are due to a lack of proper training and supervision of franchise employees.
"I think because they have insurance they feel almost immune to lawsuits," Fuller tells WW. "I feel like upper management is really disappointed in what goes on, but they're not disappointed enough to actually make changes."
Earlier this month, a Portland couple—one of who was a McDonald's manager at the chain but was on maternity leave at the time —sued the franchise after another employee allegedly assaulted and threatened their family.