McDonald’s Employee Sexual Harassment Problems Are Widespread, According to Lawsuits

A number of civil and human rights groups have announced a campaign to end sexual harassment at McDonald’s restaurants nationwide, with more than two dozen lawsuits and charges brought in twenty different cities nationwide.

In a press release issued on May 21, the National Women’s Law Center’s Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund announced that at least 25 McDonald’s sexual harassment lawsuits and complaints have been filed against the fast food chain on the same day.

The lawsuits were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as part of a coordinated effort with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Fight for $15 organization and other organizations.

The allegations describe rampant employee sexual harassment at McDonald’s restaurants nationwide, and retribution when women tried to complain. According to the complaints, women were fired, or had hours reduced when they fought back against unwanted sexually aggressive behavior or assault by male managers and co-workers.

“It’s a brutal reality across the fast food industry that at least one in four workers – especially women of color working low-wage jobs – experience sexual harassment as a routine part of their job,” Sharyn Tejani, director of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, said in the press release. “Every day, workers are forced to choose between getting a paycheck or speaking up about their abuse. When they report harassment, workers are often fired or have their shifts cut – and since nothing is done to stop it, the scourge continues.”

Time’s Up notes that two-thirds of the nation’s 23 million low-wage workers are women, and that harassment is common not just at McDonald’s, but across the low-wage workforce.

McDonald’s employs about 850,000 workers in 14,000 locations across the U.S. In September, McDonald’s employees in several cities staged a one-day strike to protest sexual harassment problems throughout the chain.

On Monday, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook wrote a letter to U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, announcing that the company is revamping its sexual harassment policy, and will set up a hotline for employees to report problems some time in June.

The company has reportedly faced more than 50 EEOC complaints and lawsuits over the past three years involving sexual harassment.

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