Charges of harassment and discrimination are nothing new for the fast food giant, McDonald’s. The corporation has faced multiple charges in the past few years. CEO Steve Easterbrook continues to state they are working to reduce workplace harassment and make their restaurants safer.
But workers across the country—particularly female employees—still deal with inappropriate behavior daily. And now they have attracted national attention by taking matters into their own hands.
Harassment and retaliation rampant throughout the franchise
Several complaints from workers nationwide sound alarmingly similar:
- Female McDonald’s employees experience sexual harassment and misconduct in their workplace.
- And when they report it, McDonald’s does not remove the managers or male co-workers from the branch or penalize them in any way.
- Then the retaliation these employees experience only makes matters worse.
Most of these women already earn low wages. And ABC News reports that many workers, like Jamelia Fairley, state that their employers responded to their complaints by cutting their hours.
Sexual harassment and wage discrimination is, unfortunately, incredibly common in the fast-food industry. And if workers speak up, many fear the same retaliation that Fairley experienced. So, the majority of workers never file a report, in favor of preserving the income they depend on. That is often what employers expect, and how they abuse their power.
Workers protest across the nation
Fairley’s story is only one of many. McDonald’s now faces 25 lawsuits and various federal complaints regarding:
- Widespread incidents of sexual harassment against low-wage female employees
- Wage and hour discrimination against female employees
- Employer retaliation against employees who report either of these issues
These workers are taking the right steps by filing their complaints and now lawsuits. And last week, many workers took to the streets in a strike while McDonald’s held its annual shareholder meeting. In response to the way McDonald’s has mishandled so many incidents, many workers are calling for the right to form a union.
Would a union help improve the situation?
Unions act as a middleman between employers and their workers. And since McDonald’s workers are unhappy with the corporation’s responses, a union might be the answer they are looking for. Forming a union could help support workers when they file a claim as well as regulate fair labor practices.
Restaurant workers have a right to form a union, thanks to the National Labor Relations Act. However, exercising that right can be more challenging than it seems. McDonald’s workers still have a long way to go, but they have taken the necessary steps to achieve an essential change that could have a rippling effect on the whole workforce.