McDonald’s, fast food conglomerate and alleged sexual harassment cesspool, is at the center of a slew of complaints filed by workers in the last week.
The Fight for $15, which campaigns around pay increases for low-wage workers, and the TIMES UP Legal Defense Fund, which grew out of #MeToo, are joining forces on behalf of 10 women who say they’ve been subjected to indecent exposure, sexual comments by supervisors, and propositions for sex while working at McDonald’s restaurants. The women behind the harassment suits work at franchises across the country, and one of the complainants is just 15 years old. “McDonald’s advertises all over television saying it’s ‘America’s best first job,’ but my experience has been a nightmare,” said the teen, Breauna Morrow, in a press release emailed to Jezebel.
In the press statement, Fight for $15 and TIMES UP released details of some of the complaints filed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They’re stomach-churning:
• Supervisors did nothing when a 15-year-old cashier in St. Louis complained of a co-worker who repeatedly harassed her using graphic, sexual language;
• Managers mocked a New Orleans woman who complained about a coworker groping her, telling her she was probably giving the worker “sex appeal” and that she should take it to the “next level” with him. When a second co-worker attempted to sexually assault her in the restaurant’s bathroom, she did not report it because her first complaint was not taken seriously;
• Managers told a Durham worker they wanted to have sex with her, including one who suggested a threesome with her and a coworker and another who asked to have sex in his car. They made fun of her when she complained about a coworker who regularly propositioned her for sex [...]
McDonald’s spokeswoman Terri Hickey responded to the claims in a comment to the Associated Press, saying that McDonald’s is “no place for harassment and discrimination of any kind.” Her email continued: “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.”
All of the McDonald’s restaurants listed in the complaints are independent franchises, a detail that McDonald’s exploits to avoid taking responsibility for working conditions and wage exploitation.
This also isn’t the first time sexual harassment complaints have been leveled against McDonald’s. From the Associated Press:
When similar sexual harassment charges were lodged by Fight for $15 workers two years ago, McDonald’s promised a review of those allegations. However, Hickey — in her new response — declined to say whether that review led to any changes of policies and practices aimed at curtailing such harassment.
All of this throws McDonald’s superficial efforts to appear to give a fuck about women in an even more embarrassing light. In March, McDonald’s decided to flip its iconic golden arches to look like a “W” in honor of International Women’s Day. All the while, its franchises were ignoring complaints from women within their workforce and paying them meager wages.
Forty percent of women who work in the fast food industry have been sexually harassed in the workplace. Flipping a logo for a day doesn’t do shit for those women. A lawsuit just might.
Correction: A previous version of this post stated that 40 percent of fast food employees have been sexually assaulted on the job. The correct statistic is that 40 percent of fast food employees have experienced sexual harassment. Jezebel regrets the error.