Advocates on Tuesday said that McDonald's workers filed dozens of new sexual harassment charges against the fast food giant, escalating a years-long battle for unionization in the US and stronger worker protections.
The complaints, filed with the US agency that investigates workplace misconduct, were on behalf of workers in 20 cities.
Accusations included groping, indecent exposure, propositions for sex and retaliation against those who complained.
Dozens of workers protested in front of the company’s headquarters in Chicago, two days before its annual shareholders’ meeting, tying their efforts to the #MeToo movement.
“I was subjected to a humiliating and intimidating environment at McDonald’s and managers did nothing to stop it,” said Jamelia Fairley, a worker of a Florida store who filed a complaint.
In advance of the protest, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a letter that the company has improved its sexual harassment policy, training and education initiatives, and provided resources for its franchisees to do the same.
“The McDonald’s system has always had an unyielding commitment to providing a safe and respectful work environment for all,” Easterbrook said in the letter.
“We can find no one who has heard of a new policy or training initiative,” said Gillian Thomas, an attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, which is helping the workers.
Their demands are part of a unionization effort of McDonald’s workers known as “Fight for $15” -- an initiative begun in 2012 with demands for a $15 minimum wage.