McDonald’s franchisee agrees to pay $4.4M after manager sexually assaulted teen



A franchisee of fast food giant McDonald’s has agreed to pay a teenage girl $4.4 million to settle her lawsuit over having been sexually assaulted by a Pittsburgh-area restaurant manager who was a registered sex offender, the victim’s lawyers announced on Monday.

The deal between the girl, who was 14 at the time of the 2021 sexual assault, and McDonald’s franchisee Rice Enterprises LLC, compensates her for the attack by Walter A. Garner in the restaurant bathroom.

At the time, Garner, now 44, had served prison time and was listed on the Megan’s Law website for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl.

Garner pleaded guilty in 2021 to statutory sexual assault, indecent assault and other charges for the McDonald’s assault and is serving a state prison sentence. A message seeking comment was left Monday for the public defenders who represented him in that case and in the 2003 case that was resolved with a guilty plea to aggravated indecent assault and other charges.

The lawsuit helped prompt an October 2021 strike by workers in 12 U.S. cities, an effort to get the company to better address what they described as an ongoing problem of sexual harassment and violence in McDonald’s stores.

Through a McDonald’s spokesperson, Rice Enterprises said it fired Garner as soon as they learned of the allegations against him in 2021.

“Since then, we’ve redoubled our efforts to ensure a positive and respectful experience for all employees in our restaurants, and our organization maintains a zero-tolerance policy for harassment of any kind,” Rice Enterprises said in the emailed statement. The company said it puts new hires through “safe and respectful workplace training” and has enhanced security.

The employee was 14 when she began working at a McDonald’s in Bethel Park in October 2020. She said she had no training on sexual harassment or how to report it. Garner made sexual comments to her and touched her inappropriately before the bathroom sexual assault in mid-February 2021, according to the lawsuit.

Garner was arrested in April 2021 after another McDonald’s employee told administrators at her school about his behavior and police were called, the lawsuit said.

Lawyer Alan Perer, who represents the girl and her parents in the Allegheny County civil litigation, said he questions how a sex offender was hired to manage girls of high school age.

“For a company to allow a known sex offender to have access to and control over young teens turns America’s best first job into a nightmare for those teens,” Perer said in a release.

McDonald’s USA called the girl’s assault deeply troubling, issuing a statement that said violence and sexual harassment are completely unacceptable. The company said it is committed to providing franchisees with training resources to help prevent harassment.

Find your latest news here at the Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:

Subscribe to The Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle


More like this

Chicana feminist Judithe Hernández draws complex humanity at the Cheech

In a revealing video interview that accompanies her captivating 50-year survey at the Riverside Art Museum’s Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, artist Judithe Hernández recounts how she became the anomalous fifth member of Los Four, the groundbreaking L.A. art collective. Following the group’s ambitious 1974 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Hernández prevailed upon them to admit her into their ranks.

San Jacinto Valley students honored in January

The Hemet/San Jacinto Student of the Month program held its most recent recognition breakfast at the Maze Stone at Soboba Springs Golf Course on Jan. 18. Seven local high school seniors were recognized and honored for their character, love of learning and commitment to academics in addition to their involvement in school and community activities and their ability to overcome difficult life circumstances.

Soboba celebrates with sweets and hearts

Valentine’s Day brought out lots of pink and red hearts throughout the Soboba Indian Reservation as preschoolers to teenagers celebrated the extra sweet holiday on Feb. 14.

Hemet Film Festival: “Necessity Breeds Creativity”

During a sunny Saturday in Southern California, the first official Hemet Film Festival took place at the Historic Hemet Theatre on Florida Ave. On November 11th, 2023, audiences filled the red theater seats for a day spent watching movies directed by local filmmakers.