Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

eeoc banner

New York District Office


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              

March 31, 2021

Vermont McDonald’s Franchise Subjected Workers, Including Teens, to Years-Long

Sexual Harassment and Forced Out Victim Who Complained, Federal Agency Charges


        BURLINGTON, Vt. – Coughlin, Inc., owner and operator of 10 franchise McDonald’s restaurants in Vermont and New Hampshire, violated federal law by subjecting employees to a sexually abusive and hostile work environment and retaliating against one employee who complained, the U.S. Equal Emplo­yment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.  

        According to the EEOC’s complaint, between late 2014 and late December 2019, a second assistant manager at Coughlin’s Randolph, Vt., McDonald’s restaurant created a sexually hostile and abusive work environment for Jennie Lumbra and other employees, both female and male. Many of these employees were high school-aged or young adults in entry-level positions. The harasser’s conduct in­cluded unwelcomed sexual comments and innuendos about sex, sexual acts and body parts.  The har­asser’s conduct also included grabbing or attempting to grab employees’ breasts and buttocks and hitting employees’ genitals on such a regular basis.

        The EEOC also alleges that not only did Coughlin fail to take appropriate measures to stop the harasser’s unlawful behavior after Lumbra and others complained about it, but Coughlin removed her from her normal work schedule, which she had for over three years, right after she complained, forcing her to resign. Only after the harasser’s sexually abusive conduct towards a young employee was reported to local law enforcement did Coughlin fire the harasser.

        Such alleged conduct violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont (EEOC v. Coughlin, Inc. d/b/a McDonald’s, Civil Action No. 2:21-cv-00099-wks) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for Jennie Lumbra and the other victims of the harass­ment, as well as injunctive relief designed to remedy and prevent future sex discrimination and retaliation. The case will be litigated by EEOC Trial Attorney Katie N. Linehan and EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Kimberly Cruz.

        “Federal laws aim to ensure that employees can work in an environment free of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, regardless of the gender of the victim,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. “A sexually abusive and hostile work environment is all the more troubling when many of the victims are just entering the workforce and especially young and vulnerable.”

        Judy Keenan, director of the New York District Office, said, “The EEOC continuously works towards eradicating sexual harassment, and other forms of discrimination, in the workplace. Protecting victims’ rights to oppose discrimination by reporting inappropriate conduct without fear of retaliation is central to the EEOC’s mission.”

        The EEOC’s Youth@Work website (at ) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.

        The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.

        The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.


Kimberly Cruz, Supervisory Trial Attorney


Katie Linehan, Trial Attorney


Michael Rojas, Program Analyst

W)929-506-5331; C)347-789-2840 TTY)212-336-3622