3 new complaints from McDonald's workers accuse the company of a 'pattern of sexual harassment' and retaliation

·3 min read
mcdonald's worker restaurant fast food cook fries employee
Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters
  • Three new sexual harassment claims against McDonald's were announced today.

  • All three claims allege retaliation for reporting harassment.

  • McDonald's says "sexual harassment and assault have no place in any McDonald's restaurant."

McDonald's workers in 10 US cities are planning a one-day strike over what they say is a huge sexual harassment problem throughout the chain.

Workers participating in the walkout are working with Fight for $15, which has been involved in previous strikes and labor actions across the fast-food industry. The organization is also filing three new EEOC complaints alleging retaliation for reporting sexual harassment.

"McDonald's was and is engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment against women, including by maintaining a hostile work environment at its stores and retaliating against those who complain about sexual harassment," according to one of the complaints filed with the agency about a McDonald's location in California.

"Every single person working at a McDonald's restaurant deserves to feel safe and respected when they come to work, and sexual harassment and assault have no place in any McDonald's restaurant." McDonald's USA told Insider in a statement. "We know more work is needed to further our workplace ambitions, which is why all 40,000 McDonald's restaurants will be assessed and accountable to Global Brand Standards."

The female employee says that she worked in a corporate-owned location from November 2019 to August 2020, and she reported inappropriate touching and actions between a department manager and a teenage cashier, which is against McDonald's policy.

"After I repeatedly reported and opposed sexual harassment, McDonald's retaliated against me by changing my working conditions, filing pretextual written reprimands against me, denying me a transfer, and terminating my employment," the complaint says.

Another worker, in a new EEOC filing in Louisiana, alleges that she was harassed by a coworker between December 2020 and January 2021, which eventually led to her losing her job at McDonald's.

"He regularly asked me about having sex and graphically described the sexual acts he wanted to engage in with me," showed the reporting worker pictures of his genitals, and asked to touch her breasts, she wrote.

After reporting this treatment, the manager "would frequently avoid me and became unfairly critical of my work," the report says. until she was told to leave and not come back.

In the third new complaint, a 16-year-old employee in Illinois says that a shift manager repeatedly touched her at work beginning in May 2021, and her hours were reduced in retaliation after reporting.

"I felt so uncomfortable and scared that I could not bear to keep working in that environment," so she quit in June 2021.

"I bring this charge on behalf of all women who work or have worked at McDonald's, who have been subjected to sexual harassment, a hostile working environment, and retaliation for complaining," each of the three filings include under the charges category.

Over 50 sexual harassment lawsuits from workers have come out in recent years alleging the McDonald's company culture allows these behaviors. In 2020, a $500 million class action lawsuit filed by Florida workers alleged a "systemic sexual harassment problem."

Some of the claims center around inappropriate advances and comments from coworkers and supervisors, while others are about a lack of proper training and support around sexual harassment. McDonald's has taken some steps to address these problems, introducing a hotline in 2019 where workers can anonymously report harassment, though the Illinois employee mentions in the suit that she was never made aware of the hotline.

McDonald's says the new standards, designed to create a culture of safety, will be implemented globally beginning in January 2022. They'll include training in retaliation, harassment, and anti-violence policies, annual crew and manager surveys, and a new process for reporting complaints.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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