McDonald’s has been slapped with 23 new complaints of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation for employees who speak out about it.
The complaints were announced Tuesday by the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the labor group Fight for $15. Twenty of the complaints were sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and three were filed as civil rights lawsuits, with two suits stemming from previous allegations, according to The New York Times.
The restaurant industry has one of the highest rates of sexual harassment, according to the Times, citing a survey in which 40 percent of female fast food workers said they had experienced it, and more than one in five said they had faced retaliation for reporting it.
Last September, hundreds of McDonald’s employees walked out during lunch to protest sexual harassment. Another protest took place on Tuesday in front of the company headquarters in Chicago.
Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook, responding on Monday to a letter from Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, said the company had improved and clarified its harassment policies, according to the Times. He said the company had sent posters outlining the policies to its restaurants and had put most franchise owners through new training. In the coming months, the company will be rolling out more training and a complaint hotline, he said.
Former employee Brittany Hoyos told the Times that in 2016, when she was 16, she started her first job at a McDonald’s in Tucson. A manager soon began harassing her, she said—touching her hair, texting her about her looks, attempting to kiss her. Her parents told her supervisors, spurring retaliation at work, Hoyos said, including a demotion. She said the retaliation also affected her mother, as she worked in the restaurant too. Both were eventually left unemployed.
“I was embarrassed,” recalled Hoyos, now 19, in her complaint. “I felt like I was at fault or that I had done something wrong.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.