Workers Launch ‘MeToo McDonald’s’ Movement As Fast-Food Chain Is Hit With 25 Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
#MeToo enters the restaurant business.
McDonald's has been hit with more than two dozen sexual harassment lawsuits.
Twenty-five lawsuits were filed by workers across the country who accuse the company and its franchisees of ignoring the complaints of women as young as 16 years old, reports The New York Times. Twenty of the filings were sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), three were submitted as civil rights lawsuits and the other two came from previously filed complaints. The cases were announced two days before McDonald's annual shareholder meeting. The American Civil Liberties Union, Fight For $15 and the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund are supporting the plaintiffs.
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These 25 lawsuits are only a fraction of the complaints labor activists have received. According to The New York Times, The Times Up Legal Fund has received nearly 5,000 requests for assistance since it was launched. Moving forward, a hotline will be created for any other McDonald's worker who wants to report harassment.
The accusations include lewd comments, groping and attempted rape. Workers who report the abuse face retaliation from management and other coworkers. Brittany Hoyos, 19, experienced unwanted advances from her manager. When her parents found out and reported the behavior, she was demoted from her position as a crew trainer. Her mother and coworker, Maribel, was also targeted. Both of them no longer work for the company. Brittany blamed herself for their misfortune.
“I was embarrassed,” she said in court documents. “I felt like I was at fault or that I had done something wrong.”
Jamelia Fairley was also punished for telling on coworkers who groped her and made sexual comments about her daughter. Her hours were cut and she was denied a transfer to another store. She got involved in the sexual harassment fight to set an example for her little girl.
“I was thinking about my daughter,” she said. “What if she has to work for McDonald’s one day and something like this happens to her? What if no one stands up for her?”
According to Tanya Harrell, who was the victim of an attempted rape, this is common.
“For three years, we’ve been speaking out, filing charges and even going on strike to get McDonald’s to confront its sexual harassment problem,” Harrell told USA Today. “But these new charges show that nothing has changed. We cannot wait any longer for action. McDonald’s, it’s time to sit down with the workers who help make your $6 billion in profits possible so, together, we can stamp out harassment once and for all.”
McDonald’s hasn’t addressed the lawsuits directly. Instead, the fast-food giant sent out copies of a letter written to Top Chef host and executive producer Padma Lakshmi, according to CBS News.
"We have enhanced our policy so that it more clearly informs employees of their rights, more clearly defines sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation, and provide examples of what unacceptable behavior looks like," it read. "It also underscores how employees can report a complaint if they do not feel comfortable addressing it with a manager."