Fight for $15 workers filed a #MeToo federal complaint against McDonald’s, accusing supervisors and managers of conducting or allowing sexual harassment at restaurants in nine cities across the country.
In the complaint filed Tuesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, cooks and cashiers said they were subjected to unwanted advances by superiors that included lewd sexual comments and requests for sex in bathrooms and cars. A minor also said she was ignored when she complained about another worker repeatedly harassing her by using graphic, sexual language.
The employees worked in restaurants in Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Durham, N.C., Kansas City, Mo., New Orleans, Orlando and St. Louis. Fight for $15, a worker advocacy group, announced the federal complaint at a press conference held Tuesday outside of McDonald’s new downtown Chicago headquarters.
Other alleged charges include managers in Durham suggesting a threesome and sex in cars with workers. In Chicago, one manager “narrated lurid fantasies about what he would do” with two employees if he could get them both alone in a bathroom, Fight for $15 said.
McDonald’s spokeswoman Terri Hickey responded to the complaint Tuesday with a statement: “At McDonald’s Corporation, we are and have been 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.”
In a statement, Breauna Morrow, a 15-year-old cashier in St. Louis called her McDonald’s experience a nightmare.
“I know I’m not the only one and that’s why I’m speaking out, so others don’t have to face the harassment I’ve gone through,” she said.
It is Morrow’s first job; she remains employed at the restaurant.
Fight for $15 said some workers who complained of sexual harassment “were brushed off, went unaddressed, or, in some cases, they were mocked or met with retaliation, including termination.”
Filing a complaint with the EEOC is standard procedure for incidents of workplace civil rights violations. A representative for the EEOC declined to discuss individual cases. If the EEOC chooses not to charge McDonald’s, Fight for $15 must ask the agency for the right to file its own lawsuit, another standard procedure.
Fight for $15, which formed in 2012 when fast food workers began demanding better wages, routinely hosts protests at high-profile fast food restaurants. Tuesday was no different, but instead of announcing the charges at the locations where employees were harassed, the group chose to host a press conference at the company’s new corporate offices in Chicago.
McDonald’s is in the process of relocating its Oak Brook, Ill.-based headquarters to downtown Chicago. A formal grand opening of the new headquarters is set for early June.
Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]
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