The legal costs of the complaints, lodged on behalf of ten female employees, are being paid for by the TIMES UP Legal Defense Fund.
The #MeToo movement that's shaken the restaurant industry has now hit fast food in a big way. On Tuesday, two advocacy groups lodged sexual harassment complaints on behalf of ten McDonald's employees, all women, who worked at the restaurants, the Associated Press reports.
Spread across nine cities, the women "alleged groping, propositions for sex, indecent exposure and lewd comments by supervisors," according to the AP. "[W]hen the women reported the harassment, they were ignored or mocked, and in some cases suffered retaliation." One of the employees in the complaints includes a 15-year-old from St. Louis.
"At McDonald’s Corporation, we are and have been committed to a culture that fosters the respectful treatment of everyone," reads a statement emailed to Food & Wine by a McDonald's spokesperson. "There is no place for harassment and discrimination of any kind in our workplace. McDonald’s Corporation takes allegations of sexual harassment very seriously and are confident our independent franchisees who own and operate approximately 90 percent of our 14,000 U.S. restaurants will do the same."
The complaints were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and organized by Fight for $15, a campaign seeking to raise wages for fast-food workers. According to the AP, the legal defenses are being paid for by TIMES UP Legal Defense Fund, which launched in January.
A big part of the problem, it seems, isn't an issue of policy—of course national fast-food companies have rules against anti-sexual harassment—but rather a matter of enforcement and protection against retaliation.
“Most companies have a policy saying no sexual harassment, but how do you make that work?” asked National Women’s Law Center CEO Fatima Goss Graves in an interview with the AP. “Right now, because of the huge power disparities, it’s easy to just wait out the complaints and nothing really changes.”