McDonald’s workers to strike Tuesday over sexual harassment

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McDonald’s employees in at least 10 cities are planning to strike on Tuesday to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment in the workplace and urge workers at the burger chain to unionize.

The one-day strike will target some of the company’s biggest markets, including Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Miami.

Workers will also strike in Charleston, Charlotte, Durham, Marion, Milwaukee, Orlando and St. Louis, according to the protest’s organizer, Fight for $15 and a Union.

“I’m going on strike because despite years of protests, McDonald’s still refuses to take responsibility for the countless women and teenagers who face harassment on the job at its stores across the globe,” Jamelia Fairley, a Florida McDonald’s worker who’s sued the company over the sexual harassment allegations, said in a statement. 

“No matter what McDonald’s says, not much has changed for workers like me. I’m joining the historic #Striketober strike wave because I know nothing will change for me, or millions of other workers like me, until we use our collective voice to make change happen.”

Former McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook
Former McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook allegedly had sexual relationships with three staff employees.
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A sign stands outside of a McDonald's restaurant February 9, 2009 in San Francisco.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims sexual harassment was rampant in 22 McDonald’s chains.
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The one-day strike comes after a Pittsburgh McDonald’s manager, who was a registered sex offender when he was hired, allegedly raped a 14-year-old coworker, according to a lawsuit filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County.

“McDonald’s corporate continues to deny responsibility for anything that happens to workers in franchise stores,” said Alan Perer, the attorney representing the teenager.

The walkout also comes after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a federal lawsuit that the owners of 22 McDonald’s restaurants in Arizona, California and Nevada subjected workers, including teenagers, to sexual harassment, including “constant groping.”

But the alleged issues at McDonald’s extend further back than that. Last year, McDonald’s sued former CEO Steve Easterbrook for allegedly having sex with three employees in his last year at the company.

A McDonald's employee prepares an order during a one-day hiring event at a McDonald's restaurant on April 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California.
Florida McDonald’s worker Jamelia Fairley blasts the fast-food chain for refusing to “take responsibility for the countless women” who are sexually harassed at the restaurants.
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A sign stands outside of a McDonald's restaurant February 9, 2009 in San Francisco.
McDonald’s is one of the many fast-food chains dealing with the national labor shortage.
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In April, McDonald’s announced that it would mandate anti-harassment training for all of its employees.

“Every single person working at a McDonald’s restaurant deserves to feel safe and respected when they come to work, and sexual harassment and assault have no place in any McDonald’s restaurant,” McDonald’s said in a statement.

“We know more work is needed to further our workplace ambitions, which is why all 40,000 McDonald’s restaurants will be assessed and accountable to Global Brand Standards.”

A McDonald's employee holds a sign protesting alleged sexual harassment at the workplace in Chicago, Illinois on September 18, 2018.
A McDonald’s employee holds a sign protesting alleged sexual harassment at the workplace in Chicago, Illinois on September 18, 2018.
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Former McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook
The Golden Arches reportedly paid millions to former McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook in his severance package.
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The walkout will come as various industries, especially the fast-food sector, grapple with a nationwide labor shortage that’s forced many businesses and franchises to close early or operate at partial capacity.

It’s just the latest allegations to plague McDonald’s, which has also been sued for racial discrimination, including by former Major League Baseball star turned franchisee Herb Washington.

Former MLB player Herb Washington previously sued McDonald's for racial discrimination of black franchise owners.
Former MLB player Herb Washington previously sued McDonald’s for racial discrimination of black franchise owners.
AP

Washington and other black franchisees have alleged that the company deliberately steers them into low income neighborhoods where they make far less in sales than their white counterparts. 

The company has denied the allegations.

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