Over the past several days, workers at McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) restaurants have filed 10 charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging illegal conduct at McDonald’s stores in nine cities. The filings were announced Tuesday in Chicago and include charges of sexual harassment and retaliation.
According to a press release from a worker’s group called “The Fight for $15,” the TIME’s UP legal defense fund provided financial support to investigate and file the workers’ charges in Chicago, Detroit, Durham, Kansas City (Missouri), Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando and St. Louis. They reveal instances when workers alerted management after experiencing sexual harassment on the job, yet their complaints were brushed off, went unaddressed or, in some cases, they were mocked or met with retaliation, including termination.
Sharyn Tejani, director of TIME’S UP legal defense fund said:
Few women working in low-wage jobs have the means or the financial security to challenge sexual harassment. As shown by these charges and thousands of intakes we have received at the Fund from women in every industry, those who report their abuse are often fired, demoted, or mocked—and since nothing is done to stop the harassment, nothing changes. McDonald’s is perfectly positioned—if it chooses—to take the lead in an industry that’s rampant with abuse.
Tuesday’s charges come two years after McDonald’s workers in the Fight for $15 filed a series of sexual harassment charges against the company and demonstrate that despite the spotlight on the issue in Hollywood and the media, little has changed for the burger giant’s frontline workers. Attorneys for the workers said they planned to ask the EEOC to consolidate or coordinate for investigation the newly filed charges, as well as some of the previously filed charges.
A full 40% of female fast-food workers experience unwanted sexual behavior on the job, according to a 2016 Hart Research survey cited in the press announcement. The same survey showed that 42% of women who work in the fast-food industry feel forced to accept the behavior because they cannot afford to lose their jobs. Over a fifth of women (21%) said they faced retaliation for reporting sexual harassment that included a reduction in hours, scheduling changes and being denied pay raises.