Global: McDonald's workers report "systemic sexual harassment" across restaurants
McDonald's workers employed at the company's restaurants worldwide have reported 'systemic sexual harassment'. Workers have organised demonstrations and filed lawsuits, demanding further action from the company.
In October 2016, workers in more than 30 cities in the US organised a protest at their local stores following 15 sexual harassment complaints, filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, against the company and its franchisees. Workers reported retaliation if they spoke out.
In May 2019, 23 new complaints were filed over repeated sexual harassment and retaliation in McDonald's restaurants. One worker said she had been demoted, after she reported harassment from her manager. 20 complaints were sent to the Employment Opportunity Commission, three were filed as civil rights lawsuits, and two suits stemmed from previous allegations.
In July 2019, over 1,000 women workers in the UK reported sexual harassment and abuse at McDonald's restaurants. The workers also alleged that predatory employees were transferred to different stores. According to Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), complaints were 'swept under the carpet', while some workers had been paid compensation on the condition that they signed non-disclosure agreements.
In September 2019, mayors, commissioners, city councillors and school board members in the US signed a letter to McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook, calling on him to meet workers and curate policies to eradicate harassment. Congress members also wrote similar letters.
In October 2019, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that McDonald's did not exercise enough control over franchise workers to be considered a 'joint employer'
In November 2019, McDonald's was sued by workers in Michigan over a lack of policies to address sexual harassment, failing to train managers to ensure prevention and retaliating against workers who complained. The lawsuit sought better training, protections for workers and over $5 million in damages.
In April 2020, McDonalds faced a lawsuit accusing the company of subjecting women workers in its corporate-owned restaurants to sexual harassment. The two plaintiffs, also former employees, sought to represent women workers from over 100 corporate owned, non-franchise McDonalds locations, and asked for $500 million in damages.
In May 2020, an international coalition of labour unions filed a complaint at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), alleging systemic sexual harassment of workers at its restaurants across the world, including cases in the US, Brazil, and France. The complaint alleged that the company failed to comply with the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. It was the first-ever case filed related to sexual harassment at a multinational. The complaint aimed to bring McDonalds to create a plan on combatting sexual harassment at its restaurants. The labour unions involved reported that McDonald's insisted it was not responsible for its franchised operations, which make up more than 90% of its restaurants.
In November 2021, three McDonalds workers from California, Louisiana and Illinois in the USA filed EEOC complaints alleging they had faced retaliation after reporting sexual harassment.
Company comments can be found below.