A campaign by McDonald’s to mark International Women’s Day has instead shone a harsh light on the company’s troubled treatment of women.
The fast food giant flipped its iconic golden arches, to resemble a W, across all their digital channels on Thursday, and announced that 100 of the fast food chain’s locations across the U.S. would also feature special packaging, uniforms and bag stuffers. One California outlet went so far as to physically invert its outdoor signs. Chief Diversity Officer Wendy Lewis said the gesture was “in honor of the extraordinary accomplishments of women everywhere,” reports CNN.
But the gimmick was swiftly derided by critics, including the underpaid workers’ organization Fight for 15, who accuse the company of failing to pay its female workers fair wages, offer family leave, respect union rights, or “protect poverty wage working women from sexual harassment.”
Hourly workers in eight states filed sexual harassment complaints against the chain in 2016, including an allegation by one woman that her manager sent an SMS offering $1,000 for oral sex, HuffPost reports. Workers also made complaints of having their breasts and backsides grabbed, as well as hearing obscene comments about their appearance or sexual orientation. The then-current and former workers — members of Fight for 15 in California, New York, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Illinois and Florida — filed the allegations with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“One day, [my shift supervisor] Derek showed me a photo of his genitals. That was my breaking point,” reported plaintiff Cycei Monae, recounting a history of daily harassment by her boss.
A video released in 2016 by Fight for 15 shows McDonald’s and other fast-food workers sharing their allegations of sexual harassment suffered at work:
A 2016 survey conducted by Hart Research and commissioned by Futures Without Violence, the Ms. Foundation and the National Partnership for Women and Families in conjunction with Fight for 15, showed that 40 percent of women who work in fast food say they’ve experienced some kind of unwanted sexual behavior at work.
“We have a long history of supporting women in the workplace, giving them the opportunity to grow and succeed,” company spokesperson Lauren Altmin told CNBC ahead of International Women’s Day. “In the U.S. we take pride in our diversity and we are proud to share that today, six out of 10 restaurant managers are women.