Fighting for Women's Equality

ERA Supports McDonald’s Workers in Nationwide Strike Protesting Sexual Harassment

September 17, 2018 | by

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018

 

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Jess Eagle
Equal Rights Advocates
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jeagle@equalrights.org

 

ERA Supports McDonald’s Workers in Nationwide Strike Protesting Sexual Harassment

Ten-City McDonald’s Walkout Confronts Company’s Failure to Respond to Complaints of Widespread Groping, Lewd Comments, Propositions for Sex

 

San Francisco, CA  — Fed up with McDonald’s failure to address groping, lewd comments, propositions for sex and other illegal behavior in its stores, McDonald’s cooks and cashiers from across San Francisco will join the first-ever nationwide strike to combat sexual harassment on Sept. 18. Equal Rights Advocates is proud to provide legal support to these workers and sponsor their strike.

Workers from across the Bay will share their own stories about experiencing sexual harassment while working at McDonald’s.

Opening up a bold new front in the #MeToo movement, the striking workers will demand the fast-food giant form a committee to address sexual harassment, comprised of workers, representatives from corporate and franchise stores, and leaders of national women’s groups. This committee would chart a path forward to make sure nobody who works for McDonald’s faces sexual harassment on the job.

The strike comes four months after McDonald’s workers around the Bay and across the country, with support from the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, filed 10 charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) detailing widespread sexual harassment at the company.

“As the world’s second largest employer, McDonald’s could set the standard for addressing sexual harassment in the service sector. So far, it has failed,” said Noreen Farrell, Executive Director at Equal Rights Advocates. “That’s why we stand with the McDonald’s workers who are walking off the job. Nothing will change unless we demand change.”

McDonald’s workers will go on strike during the lunchtime rush Sept. 18 in 10 cities: Chicago, Durham, Kansas City (Missouri), Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando, San Francisco and St. Louis.

  • What: McDonald’s sexual harassment strike in San Francisco

  • When: Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at noon

  • Where: McDonald’s, 2401 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

  • Who: Bay McDonald’s workers, with support from SEIU-USWW, Equal Rights Advocates, and other workers’ rights and women’s rights groups

 

Background

The upcoming strike will be the first-ever nationwide walkout to protest sexual harassment and the first multi-state strike over sexual harassment since 1912, when garment workers at the Kalamazoo Corset Company walked off their jobs.

The Sept. 18 walkout was called by members of local Fight for $15 Women’s Committees, which formed following the filing of the EEOC charges in May, and approved in a nationwide strike vote Tuesday. The EEOC charges came nearly two years after McDonald’s workers in the Fight for $15 filed 16 sexual harassment charges against the company.

Nearly 20 leading national women’s groups joined the Fight for $15 in an open letter to McDonald’s in May, calling on the company to address sexual harassment. In the letter, which ran as a full-page advertisement in Crain’s Chicago, the groups wrote that McDonald’s faces a choice: combat sexual harassment in its stores or face a rejection of its brand by people of conscience.

In addition to demanding the formation of an anti-sexual harassment committee, workers will demand McDonald’s strengthen and enforce the zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment outlined in its manual and in its franchisees’ policies. Workers are also calling on the company to hold mandatory trainings for managers and employees, and to create a safe and effective system for receiving and responding to complaints.

Sexual harassment is rampant in the fast-food industry, according to a 2016 survey by Hart Research Associates conducted for the National Partnership for Women and Families, the Ms. Foundation and Futures Without Violence. Forty percent of female fast-food workers experience unwanted sexual behavior on the job.

The 2016 Hart Research survey also shows that 42% of women in the fast-food industry who experience unwanted sexual behavior feel forced to accept it because they can’t afford to lose their jobs. It also reports that at least one in five women who face sexual harassment (21%) report that, after raising the issue, their employer took some retaliatory action against the complainant, including cutting their hours, changing them to a less desirable schedule, giving them additional duties, and being denied a raise.

 

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Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) is a national civil rights organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls.

 

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