McDonald’s employees in 12 US cities have quit to protest the ongoing problem of sexual harassment and violence at the company’s stores.
McDonald’s employees in 12 US cities quit on Tuesday to protest the ongoing problem of sexual harassment and violence at the company’s stores.
According to Fight for $15&A Union, a labor group organizing the strikes, several hundred workers were expected to participate in Chicago, Houston, Miami, Detroit and other cities.
It is the fifth time since 2018 that McDonald’s employees have told the company about inadequate efforts to prevent sexual harassment at its stores. At least 50 workers have filed charges of verbal and physical harassment at McDonald’s over the past five years.
In April, McDonald’s announced that it would require sexual harassment training, reporting procedures for complaints, and annual employee surveys at its 40,000 stores worldwide starting in January 2022.
But some activists say this is not enough. They want McDonald’s—not its franchisees, which own nearly all of its US stores—to be held accountable for harassment at its restaurants.
Adriana Alvarez, who has worked at McDonald’s for a decade, was part of a small group of protesters on Tuesday near the company’s headquarters in Chicago.
“I’m on strike today because we need McDonald’s to realize that we’re not going to stop. Sexual harassment needs to stop,” she said. “It’s unfair to these workers who pay close to poverty wages and then on top of that is to worry about sexual harassment at work.”
McDonald’s said late Tuesday that the strike had no effect on its operations.
The latest labor action was prompted by a lawsuit filed last month by a teenage McDonald’s employee and her parents against McDonald’s and one of its franchisees.
The employee was 14 years old when she was hired to work at a Pittsburgh-area McDonald’s in October 2020. The employee said she received no training in how to sexually assault or report it, even though McDonald’s set up a harassment hotline and began offering that training. franchises in 2019
According to the lawsuit, the teenager’s store hired a manager in January 2021 who had served a prison sentence for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl and was listed on Pennsylvania’s sex offender registry.
The manager abused and harassed the teenager and other underage employees, but there was no investigation by store leadership or McDonald’s, despite their complaints from the manager who hired them. In February, the manager followed the girl to the bathroom and raped her.
The manager, Walter Garner, was arrested in April after another McDonald’s employee told his school administrators about his behavior and the school contacted police. Garner was sentenced last week to up to 10 years in prison.
The teenager is seeking damages from McDonald’s as well as the franchise that ran her restaurant, Rice Enterprises LLC based in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.
In addition to its harassment training requirement — which was announced the same month Garner was arrested — McDonald’s said it expects the franchise to conduct a thorough investigation if allegations are made.
“Everyone who works at McDonald’s restaurants deserves to feel safe and respected when they come to work, and sexual harassment and assault have no place in any McDonald’s restaurant,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
Rice Enterprises CEO Michelle Rice said in a statement provided by her attorney that the allegations made in the teenager’s lawsuit are “deeply disturbing” and that the employee was fired as soon as she heard of the complaints against her.
“We have fully cooperated with the police and offered our full support to the affected employee,” Rice said in the statement.