Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
New York, NY, United States (4E) – McDonald’s is being sued for sexual harassment by 10 of its current and former female employees who work at McDonald’s restaurants in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and six other cities.
The complaints were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against McDonald’s and its franchisees in seven states, including Michigan, Florida and Louisiana. The complaints said most of the incidents occurred over the past two years. It also alleges McDonald’s and its franchisees ignored or retaliated against the complainants for their complaints.
The complaints filed with the EEOC are the latest effort by the union-backed “Fight for $15” coalition to have McDonald’s designated a “joint employer” of workers, making the company liable when its franchisees violate labor laws.
Fight for $15 and TIME’S UP are pressing McDonald’s to establish and train employees on a zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy and to develop a safe and effective process for receiving and responding to complaints.
If an EEOC review of the cases finds they have merit, the agency will order McDonald’s to engage in informal settlement talks. If this fails, EEOC can sue the McDonald’s or issue the workers “right to sue” letters.
One worker in Chicago said a McDonald’s supervisor at the franchise store retaliated against her by reducing her hours when she reported instances of sexual harassment by management. Another Chicago worker at a franchise said she was fired soon after reporting a manager had made sexually explicit comments to her.
A 15 year-old employee said she was repeatedly harassed by an older employee every Sunday for two months. She said this man commented on her appearance and sexually propositioned her. She said her reports about the incidents weren’t taken seriously by a superior at the company-owned store. She oted that the harassment didn’t end until she stopped working on Sundays.
A 20 year-old employee in Durham, North Carolina said she was sexually harassed by co-workers and supervisors. She also said she was subjected to a hostile work environment at the company-owned store because she’s black. The woman said she was made fun of by colleagues after reporting the behaviors and she eventually stopped turning to management.
McDonald’s claims it takes sexual harassment allegations “very seriously.” In a statement, it said the company is “committed to a culture that fosters the respectful treatment of everyone. There is no place for harassment and discrimination of any kind in our workplace. McDonald’s Corporation takes allegations of sexual harassment very seriously and are confident our independent franchisees who own and operate approximately 90 percent of our 14,000 U.S. restaurants will do the same.”
Sharyn Tejani, director of the Legal Defense Fund, said “we hope to help ensure that these charges will be a catalyst for significant change.”
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