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McDonalds is facing two dozen new complaints of sexual harassment this week. The accusations were lobbed by the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund of the National Women’s Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union and labor advocacy group Fight For $15, and allege some complainants of harassment experienced retaliation after coming forward.
The bulk of the complaints were sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and bring the number of grievances brought against the franchisor up to 50 over the last three years, according to a report from USA Today.
Last year, a number of McDonald’s employees had filed similar charges against the company, and in September McDonald’s employees in 10 cities went on strike to draw attention to sexual harassment in their workplace. The hundreds that protested outside the brand’s Chicago headquarters then called for better training for restaurant managers and more accountability, and TIME’s UP has suggested that since then the company has not taken adequate steps to address issues of sexual harassment within its organization, and said as much in a May 21 open letter to McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook. “A year has passed and McDonald’s has failed to respond adequately, putting workers’ safety on the line,” the letter read. “Today, additional workers have bravely stepped forward to file disturbing new EEOC complaints of harassment, abuse and retaliation that have occurred recently at McDonald’s restaurants.”
TIME’s UP is demanding that McDonald’s – whose system totals 14,000 locations and some 800,000 employees – enact training for the managers and employees of its restaurants, ensure employees’ complaints are addressed without retaliation, and adopt greater transparency about harassment and how it is dealt with.
“Every day, workers are forced to choose between getting a paycheck or speaking up about their abuse,” said Sharyn Tejani, director of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund as part of a statement on the matter. “When they report harassment, workers are often fired or have their shifts cut—and since nothing is done to stop it, the scourge continues.”
McDonald’s declined to comment on the latest accusations. But points to May 19 letter to “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi – a vocal supporter of the McDonald’s workers – written by Easterbrook, in which he insisted McDonald’s has taken serious steps to address workers’ grievances over the past several months. The franchisor, he said, had partnered with sexual assault hotline, RAINN – the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network – to help enhance its internal system for preventing and addressing sexual harassment through third-party reporting and training.
“We have enhanced our policy so that it more clearly informs employees of their rights, more clearly defines sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation, and provides examples of what unacceptable behavior looks like,” Easterbrook wrote. “It also underscores how employees can report a complaint if they do not feel comfortable addressing it with a manager.
Easterbrook pointed to McDonald’s overhauled policies, which he said had been printed and shipped to all restaurant locations. “To date, almost 90% of all McDonald’s operators and General Managers have taken the training,” Easterbrook wrote. “We are also going further and implementing new educational training modules on harassment, unconscious bias and workplace safety for frontline crew at regular points during their shifts.”
Though Tejani applauds McDonald’s efforts to change from within, she told Forbes the company has not begun direct dialogue with the employees who have filed complaints or those that have stood in protest and on strike to raise awareness of the harassment that has taken place in past years. “These are the people (McDonald’s) should be talking to.”
May 22, 2019 at 04:13PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs