McDonald's in trouble over sexual harassment complaints

World

23 May 2018

10 more US employees allege sexual harassment by McDonald's management

The #MeToo movement has trickled down to the working-classes. Ten McDonald's employees from nine American cities have filed complaints against the giant in one week.

The complainants, including a 15-year-old, have alleged groping, unwanted sexual advances and indecent exposure by supervisors.

Many said the management retaliated when they complained.

Supporting these women are the Fight for $15 and TIME'S UP groups.

Harassment

Women were groped, commented on, propositioned for sex

A 15-year-old St Louis cashier says she was "repeatedly harassed" by a co-worker using "graphic, sexual language."

But when she complained, her "supervisors did nothing."

Another New Orleans employee says she was groped by a colleague.

When she told her seniors, they mocked her, saying she was "probably giving the worker 'sex appeal'."

Complainants hailed from Chicago, LA, Detroit, Miami, Orlando, Durham, Florida, and elsewhere.

Some were fired for complaining, others had hours cut down

One Chicago worker said when she complained against managers, her supervisor cut her hours instead, thus hitting her earnings. Another said she was fired soon after she revealed a manager had made lewd comments.

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History

Last time, McDonald's got out because of a technicality

Similar complaints surfaced against McDonald's two years ago. But spokeswoman Terri Hickey said the brand was dismissed because not it, but its franchises, employed the complainants.

Franchises are responsible for implementing and ensuring adherence to employee policies, she claimed.

However, it did promise a review of those allegations, but Hickey has refused to comment on whether any policy changes were made.

Demand

The women are having no more

The women are having no more

The campaigners say this time there's one major difference: the women have legal aid from them.

They have mentioned McDonald's in their complaint this time too, because they "want McDonald's to take sexual harassment seriously and enforce its already existing zero tolerance policy," said lawyer Eve Cervantez.

Fight for $15 wants the company to hold anti-harassment workshops for employees and create a complaint mechanism.

McDonald's responds

Responding to the complaints, McDonald's said it takes sexual harassment allegations "very seriously." "There is no place for harassment and discrimination. McDonald's Corporation...(is) confident our independent franchisees who own and operate approximately 90% of our 14,000 US restaurants will (enforce policies efficiently)."

Consequences

Will McDonald's be able to escape this time too?

If the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finds merit in the complaints, McDonald's might be called for informal settlement talks.

If it doesn't, the complainants can get "right to sue" letters.

The US' restaurant industry, with a large female workforce and low wages, witnesses rampant sexual harassment of women employees by colleagues and customers.

A 2016 survey says 40% of these women have been victims.

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