Female employees at McDonald's are organizing a strike to pressure the company into addressing sexual harassment issues, writes Vox. Women who work for the company say that male supervisors frequently grope them, solicit them for sex, and expose themselves while working. Managers have often ignored accusations of inappropriate behavior, and have also punished the women that report it.
The strike is set for September 18 and will take place in 10 U.S. cities around the country. The walkout represents the first labor strike to target a U.S. company in relation to the #MeToo movement that began in the fall of 2017, brought on by the Harvey Weinstein allegations.
Although some of the top media executives in the country have been exposed and taken down due to the movement, industries with low-wage employees that are most likely to experience sexual harassment have largely continued to fly under the radar.
Mary Joyce Carlson, an attorney for the labor campaign "Fight For $15", talked to publication Politico about the motivation for the strike, reports Vox.
"We want to change the culture in McDonalds, and by doing that change the culture in the fast food industry."
"Fight for $15", a labor group advocating for higher wages in the fast-food industry, is teaming up with Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, a legal assistance group that provides aid for workers experiencing sexual harassment. The organizations will support the 10 women who filed sexual harassment claims against McDonald's in addition to hundreds more who have joined together to participate in the walkout.
The cities in which the walkout will take place are Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando, San Francisco, and Durham, North Carolina.
The international burger chain has been the target of many discrimination investigations in the past. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in charge of enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws, has gone after many McDonald's franchises over the last ten years for sexual harassment.
One incident which took place back in 2011 in a Wisconsin McDonald's involved male employees commenting about female employees' bodies and groping them without their consent. The location also employed several teenage girls at the time. The EEOC sued the owner of the franchise and they settled for $1 million.
During a press release at the time, the EEOC commented, "Despite being notified of the situation, [the owner] failed and refused to take prompt and appropriate action to correct the harassment and the resulting hostile environment, forcing at least one of the harassed employees to quit. Further, the company fired other harassed employees after they complained repeatedly about their co-workers' behavior."
Female McDonald's employees have created a video, published by the Fight for $15 campaign, describing the sexual harassment they experience at work.