Senators demand McDonald’s improve sexual harassment policies

MCDONALD’S WORKERS AND THEIR ALLIES demonstrate outside a McDonald’s restaurant at 1420 Hampton Ave. in St. Louis on May 23, 2019 to demand an end to on-the-job sexual harassment, $15 an hour and union recognition. – Labor Tribune photo

Washington — Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), along with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called on McDonald’s to improve its protections against sexual harassment at locations across the country and do more to address allegations of workplace harassment, abuse and retaliation suffered by McDonald’s workers.

In a letter to McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook, the Senators emphasized how the updated company policies McDonald’s recently announced are insufficient if franchisees – who own the vast majority of McDonald’s locations – are not required to implement and enforce them.

“The McDonald’s Corporation must do more to combat workplace harassment, abuse and retaliation suffered by McDonald’s workers across the country,” the Senators wrote. “After carefully reviewing your public statements and documents, we remain troubled that the procedures, policies and activities outlined fall short of providing a safe and respectful work environment for all workers who wear the McDonald’s uniform.

“Since independently owned operations make up the vast majority of the over 14,000 McDonald’s locations across the U.S., it is imperative that the McDonald’s Corporation require all franchise locations to adopt the updated policies to guarantee that all workers will be covered by the new protections and support services,” the Senators continued. 

The Senators also asked a series of questions regarding how McDonald’s Corporation will promote workplaces that are safe and respectful at corporate and franchisee locations and how it plans to investigate reports of harassment and abuse.

The Senators also requested more details on the feedback McDonald’s received from workers and other stakeholders while working on its updated policies.

A full copy of the letter is available here.

“For three years, we’ve been speaking out, filing charges and even going on strike to get McDonald’s to confront its sexual harassment problem,” said Tanya Harrell, a McDonald’s worker and Fight for $15 and a Union leader from Gretna, La. who filed an EEOC charge alleging a coworker attempted to rape her in a bathroom stall. “With Sen. Duckworth joining with us to hold McDonald’s accountable, our voices are even louder. We’re grateful she’s asking the tough questions and pushing the company to take responsibility to make sure all of its workers are safe on the job.”  

“McDonald’s track record on tackling sexual harassment is dreadful,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “As the world’s second largest private sector employer, McDonald’s is perfectly positioned—if it chooses—to take a meaningful lead in an industry that’s rampant with abuse. And it can start by listening to its workers and acting.”

Duckworth previously wrote to McDonald’s in late 2018 to urge the corporation to improve its protections against sexual harassment after she heard from McDonald’s workers who had serious workplace safety concerns.


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