In the latest move by the Fight for $15 campaign, labor organizers have named McDonald's Corporation and its franchisees in their complaints of sexual harassment. The complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), alleging harassing behavior including rubbing up against employees and groping female employees.
Fifteen McDonald's workers are named in the sexual harassment complaint. By naming McDonald's and its franchisees in the claim, the labor organizers are trying to establish that the corporation is responsible for the working conditions at restaurants owned by franchisees. By establishing the fast food chain as a single employer, labor organizers, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are hoping to unionize workers.
One worker said they had their breasts and buttocks grabbed. Another worker complained about obscene comments about their appearance and sexual orientation. One woman's boss sent a text to the employee offering her money in exchange for oral sex.
Cycei Monae, of Flint, Michigan, was making $8.50 an hour at a McDonald's. One day, her shift supervisor showed her a photo of his genitals. “That was my breaking point,” said Monae. She says she quit her job after repeated sexual advances.
Sexual harassment in the workplace often goes unreported. Many employees fear speaking out about harassment for fear of losing their jobs. Other employees who witness harassment may also be afraid to speak out. Many low-wage employees feel like they have little choice because they are dependent on their jobs to support their families.
McDonald's has said they are reviewing the allegations. “At McDonald's, we and our independent owner-operators share a deep commitment to the respectful treatment of everyone,” said a spokesperson for the company in an email to The Huffington Post. “There is no place for harassment and discrimination of any kind in McDonald's restaurants or in any workplace.”
McDonald's is the nation's second-largest employer, after Wal-Mart. However, most of the McDonald's 14,000 locations are franchises. The corporation has maintained that the franchises are separate from the corporate entity, and they are not responsible for hiring, firing, or how employees are compensated at the franchise locations.
Labor organizers argue that McDonald's exerts significant control over the franchise operations, how their restaurants are run, and have the power to take the McDonald's name away from the business owners. The sexual harassment claim joins other complaints made by labor organizers against the McDonald's corporation, including claims that employees were underpaid, and the company was in violation of OSHA for workplace hazards.
Franchised stores used to be considered separate from corporations, and the corporation was no accountable for labor violations of franchisees. However, last year, the National Labor Relations Board established that some corporations could be considered a “joint employer” and may be accountable for the actions of individual franchisees.
You do not have to put up with any kind of harassment in the workplace or watch others suffer harassment. If you have been sexually harassed, you may want to speak with an experienced attorney who understands employment discrimination law. Our attorneys have successfully handled employment discrimination cases for our clients in Peoria and throughout the state of Illinois. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients the justice they deserve and equal treatment under the law.