Monday 18 December 2017

McDonald's staff protest over 'sexual harassment'

The workers say that, in addition to being harassed at work, they experienced retaliation if they complained. Photo: Reuters
The workers say that, in addition to being harassed at work, they experienced retaliation if they complained. Photo: Reuters

Rachael Alexander in New York

McDonald's workers across the US joined in protests yesterday, after 15 different complaints of sexual harassment were filed against the fast-food chain and its franchises in a single month.

Employees from 30 cities want to draw attention to the allegations, which were filed against the company with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and come from eight states: Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Illinois, Missouri, California, Florida and New York.

The workers say that, in addition to being harassed at work, they experienced retaliation if they complained.

One complaint was filed by Kristi Maisenbach, a former McDonald's worker from California. She alleges her supervisor "grabbed [her] breasts on several occasions and would intentionally rub his genitals against [her] butt."

She also claims he sent her a text message, offering her $1,000 if she performed oral sex on him.

Maisenbach says that after she complained to her manager, her hours were cut.

Another complainant is CC Monet, who worked for McDonald's in Michigan. She alleges that her supervisor intentionally rubbed his genitals on her and talked explicitly about what "things" he wanted to do to her.

She said: "McDonald's monitors everything we do - from how fast the drive-thru is moving, to how we fold our customers' bags. Yet when I filed a complaint against my shift manager for regularly sexually harassing me - which included him showing me a photo of his genitals - McDonald's had no response. I really needed that job and the money, and I considered remaining silent. But I believed McDonald's had my back and would be horrified by the way I was treated. I was wrong."

Campaigners are now calling on the fast-food franchise to update its sexual harassment policy.

But the EEOC must first decide whether McDonald's should be held jointly responsible for the harassment taking place at its franchised restaurants - where 14 of the complaints are from.

Just one is about harassment that allegedly took place in a corporate McDonald's store. However, all the complaints name the company as a 'joint employer'.

According to the McDonald's training manual, it has a 'zero tolerance' policy when it comes to sexual harassment.

"Sexual harassment is prohibited because it may be intimidating, an abuse of power and is inconsistent with McDonald's policies and management philosophy," it reads.

But workers claim this is rarely upheld and they have no union representation.

In today's protests - which are being organised by the Fight for $15 movement, which campaigns for a $15 minimum wage - they reportedly plan to carry signs reading 'McDonald's, hands off my buns'.

In a statement, McDonald's representative Terri Hickey responded to the allegations, saying: "At McDonald's, we and our independent owner-operators share a deep commitment to the respectful treatment of everyone. There is no place for harassment and discrimination of any kind in McDonald's restaurants or in any workplace. We take any concerns seriously and are reviewing the allegations."

Irish Independent

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