More than two dozen women have filed lawsuits against McDonald’s or filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saying they were sexually harassed while working for the fast food chain.
The charges – 25 filings in all – involve alleged incidents at McDonald’s restaurants and corporate offices in 20 cities across the U.S. in which workers as young as 16 years old faced harassing behavior that included groping, indecent exposure, propositions for sex and lewd comments by supervisors.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Time’s Up, an organization that strives for gender equality, supported many of the 25 workers in their filings, which are being announced Tuesday, two days before McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting in Dallas.
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In September 2018, McDonald’s workers in 10 cities across the U.S. went on a one-day strike to protest sexual harassment about one year after accusations of sexual harassment came to light against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, which led to the #MeToo movement.
These new charges continue a multi-year effort by workers to address harassment and other workplace conditions, including higher wages, with the help of the organization The Fight for $15 and a Union.
In all, more than 50 charges and suits have been filed by McDonald’s employees working with the organization over the last three years.
“McDonald’s workers across the country are courageously coming forward to share their stories in an effort to make McDonald’s a safer workplace both for themselves and other workers,” said Deirdre Aaron, an attorney representing the workers, in a statement announcing the charges. “It’s time for McDonald’s to listen to them and take their claims seriously.”
McDonald’s could not be immediately reached for comment.
The EEOC charges were filed by workers in cities including Cincinnati, Chicago, Durham, East Haven, Conn., Gladwin, Mich., Kansas City, Mo., Los Angeles, Monterey Park, Calif., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Sacramento, Calif., St. Louis and Tucson. Workers in Chickamauga, Ga.; Williamsburg, Mich., and Davison, Mich. filed civil lawsuits against McDonald’s.
“For three years, we’ve been speaking out, filing charges and even going on strike to get McDonald’s to confront its sexual harassment problem,” said Tanya Harrell, a McDonald’s worker from Gretna, Louisiana, in a statement. She said a coworker attempted to rape her in a bathroom stall at the restaurant. “But these new charges show that nothing has changed. We cannot wait any longer for action. McDonald’s, it’s time to sit down with the workers who help make your $6 billion in profits possible so, together, we can stamp out harassment once and for all.”
The workers and the organizations will formally announce the charges in a protest outside McDonald’s downtown Chicago headquarters Tuesday.
The workers want McDonald’s to engage in talks to enforce its zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment and to have training for managers and employees to combat the behavior.
“McDonald’s is a leader in the fast-food industry, yet lags behind when it comes to protecting the workers who make its success possible,” said Eve Cervantez, an attorney who is working on the cases with the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. “Year after year, worker after worker tells the same story of ineffectual response from McDonald’s to serious reports of sexual harassment. McDonald’s can and should do better.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.