McDonald’s workers strike to protest alleged sexual harassment with goal of unionizing

McDonald’s employees are planning a one-day strike this week over the company’s handling of sexual harassment at the workplace and urging the workers to unionize.

“I’m going on strike because, despite years of protests, McDonald’s still refuses to take responsibility for the countless women and teenagers who face harassment on the job at its stores across the globe,” Jamelia Fairley, a McDonald’s employee in Sanford, Florida, told the Hill.

“I have met others who have experienced sexual harassment… We want a union to prevent it from happening,” she added in separate comment, according to USA Today.

The one-day protest is planned for Tuesday at locations in at least 10 cities across the nation. 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit in September alleging that a McDonald’s franchisee did not properly respond to accusations of sexual harassment from teenagers at about 22 fast-food locations in Nevada, California and Arizona. Another lawsuit was also filed last month alleging that a McDonald’s manager raped a 14-year-old employee in Pittsburgh in February.

“They advertise everywhere this is your first best job and attract these…mostly young women,” Alan Perer, the teenager’s attorney, said. “To place them in harm’s way and not protect them by not hiring properly and not overseeing what’s going on is just shocking.” The lawyer added that the manager is a previously convicted sex offender.

Fight for $15 and a Union is organizing the Tuesday protest, and said the walkout is “to demand that McDonald’s stop wasting time and listen to workers when it comes to fixing rampant sexual harassment in their stores.”

McDonald’s implemented new policies in April in response to accusations of sexual harassment, requiring employees take part in anti-harassment training and issuing surveys to franchises regarding work culture.

“Every single person working at a McDonald’s restaurant deserves to feel safe and respected when they come to work, and sexual harassment and assault have no place in any McDonald’s restaurant,” the company said in a statement amid the plans to protest. “We know more work is needed to further our workplace ambitions, which is why all 40,000 McDonald’s restaurants will be assessed and accountable to Global Brand Standards.”

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