December 7, 2021

Image credit: USA Today

McDonald’s employees in the United States have gone on strike once more over sexual harassment

McDonald’s employees in 12 US cities walked out in protest of the fast food giant’s treatment of sexual harassment claims.

It has mostly ignored frontline workers who complain, according to organisers who have launched five strikes over harassment since 2018.

Cashiers and cooks went on strike in Chicago, Detroit, Houston, and Miami, among other places, on Tuesday. According to McDonald’s, sexual harassment and violence have no place in the company.

It’s unclear how many people have joined the strike in total. Since 2016, workers have submitted more than 50 complaints and lawsuits alleging harassment at corporate-owned and franchised McDonald’s locations, according to Fight for $15, the campaign group organising the action.

Campaigners argue that the chain does nothing to address the problem not only at franchise-run restaurants, which account for the majority of the brand’s eateries, but also at corporate-owned locations. Furthermore, organisers claim that employees who have spoken out have experienced reprisal, such as having their hours reduced or being sacked.

“Despite years of protests, McDonald’s refuses to accept responsibility for the numerous women and teenagers harassed on the job at its stores throughout the world,” claimed Jamelia Fairley, a McDonald’s employee in Sanford, Florida.

Three-quarters of almost 800 female workers at McDonald’s restaurants and franchises indicated they were harassed at work in a 2020 study.

According to the same survey, which was commissioned by unions, 71% of those who reported the behaviour faced retaliation.

Following a workplace safety assessment earlier this year, McDonald’s stated that all employees, including corporate and franchise-owned, will be required to take anti-harassment training beginning in January.

However, campaigners claim that the announcement is “light on specifics,” such as what will happen if people break the restrictions.

McDonald’s said in a statement that it was committed to “thoroughly reviewing” claims at its corporate-owned stores and that franchisees should “uphold a same standard.”