Workers at McDonald’s restaurants in 10 cities across the U.S. walked out over claims that the fast food chain’s sexual harassment policies are inadequate. The strike comes after 25 women filed complaints against McDonald’s claiming it failed to enforce company rules against sexual harassment abuse.
Since 2016, 25 female employees of McDonald’s have filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the National Labor Relations Board, claiming their reports of sexual harassment were ignored, mocked or met with retaliation. The incident reports included indecent exposure, unwanted touching, and lewd comments. One employee, a 15-year-old cashier, was continuously harassed by a co-worker who spoke to the minor with very graphic, sexual language. Another employee said she reported being groped by her co-worker to her superior who responded by mocking her and accusing her of“giving the coworker ‘sex appeal’.”
McDonald’s has publicly addressed the complaints, claiming they have, “policies, procedures and training in place that are specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment at our company and company-owned restaurants.” McDonald’s has stated that they regard their franchisees as independent business owners, distancing themselves from the sexual harassment complaints. The complaints, however, named bothMcDonald’s franchisees and the corporation itself. McDonald’s has had problems with their policies in the past, paying out million dollar settlements over sexual harassment lawsuits in recent years.
Organizers for the strike hope to draw attention to the abuse that many women and underrepresented workers face on a daily basis. The strike comes as the first multistate anti-sexual harassment protest in the U.S., within the climate of the #MeToo movement. A nationwide response to the movement has begun, with legislators spurring into action. New York City, for example, responded with Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, which went into effect September 6 of this year.