Courtesy photo

McDonald’s workers strike to protest sexual harassment

Hundreds of workers at fast-food giant McDonald’s walked off the job Tuesday to address concerns about sexual harassment, with rallies happening in several U.S. cities including San Francisco.

Around noon, dozens of activists rallied with McDonald’s employees outside the restaurant’s 24th and Mission streets location for the #MeToo McDonald’s event.

According to organizers, the employees, comprised of cashiers and cooks, are striking over the company’s failure to address allegations of groping, lewd comments, propositions for sex and other illegal behavior happening at their establishments.

“It’s time for McDonald’s and their franchises to root out sexual harassment at the workplace. The failure to tackle this scourge should compel workers, customers and allies to demand real change and back this strike. As long as harassment stays in the shadows, it will continue to thrive,” Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement.

In May, 10 McDonald’s workers filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging widespread harassment throughout the company, with many reports being met with either retaliation or termination. In 2016, 17 employees filed similar complaints with the EEOC, organizers said.

Protestors also saw the walkout as an opportunity to call out McDonald’s over its hiring of Seyfarth Shaw at Work, a law firm that provides legal compliance and consulting services.

According to organizers, the firm, which is currently defending Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in a class action lawsuit over allegations of sexual harassment, was hired by McDonald’s to strengthen its harassment procedures.

“It’s absurd that in response to workers’ demands to strengthen sexual harassment and abuse policies, McDonald’s has chosen to hire Seyfarth Shaw at Work, a firm that defended The Weinstein Company in the Harvey
Weinstein affair, and companies ranging from Domino’s to Kay Jewelers in sexual harassment cases against them,” Shaunna Thomas, executive director of women’s group ultraviolet, said in a statement. “Men in positions of power – be they infamous film producers or supervisors at McDonald’s – have absolutely no place in the workplace following a report of sexual abuse.”

In addition to demanding that McDonald’s drop Seyfarth Shaw at Work, organizers want McDonald’s to enforce its policy to combat sexual harassment and provide for all employees mandatory training on how to prevent and address it.

The employees have also called for the formation of a national committee made up of workers, corporate and franchise representatives and leaders from women’s rights groups in order to develop solutions to prevent sexual harassment.

A 2016 survey by Hart Research Associates showed that 40 percent of female fast-food workers experience sexual harassment on the job, and more than 40 percent of those workers feel forced to accept the harassment out of fear of losing their jobs.

#MeToo McDonald’s organizers have set up a hotline for fast-food workers to report sexual harassment at (844) 384-4495.

-Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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