McDonald’s Employees Say Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Persist | McDonald’s
Workers at McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast food chain, are shining a light on sexual harassment and retaliation against workers in its stores, a problem they say persists despite claims of reforms and changes by McDonald’s these last years.
Rosalia Manuel of San Jose, Calif., worked at McDonald’s for 24 years, starting when she was 17.
On July 8, Manuel was fired from her job, a decision she says was taken in retaliation for reporting a colleague’s sexual harassment to the company’s HR, when she was told that the dismissal was due to the fact that she had not taken a break from work earlier. enough in his shift.
In February, Manuel saw a colleague running to the bathroom to hide from a male colleague, after which the colleague told her about the sexual harassment she was experiencing from the male colleague, who was related to one of the managers.
The male co-worker continually propositioned her co-worker, bought her gifts, touched her inappropriately, and offered to pay her to go with him to a motel. Manuel reported the harassment on his behalf to company HR, which resulted in the male co-worker being fired from the store, but their manager was angry with Manuel for not reporting it to him.
“They started laughing at us. They started taking over us, writing complaints for anything,” Manuel said.
The harassed colleague was fined, suspended for a week, then fired. On July 1, Manuel was accused of taking a break too late when the store was understaffed, and was fired when she returned to work on July 8.
“I was shocked. I went to my car and started crying because I knew I had done the right thing, but I was being fired and punished for it,” Manuel said.
She filed a complaint for her dismissal with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“They want us to be silent,” Manuel added. “I want people to know what’s going on, how they’re exploiting us, and at the same time they’re saying something else in their promotions.”
In 2020, a class action lawsuit was filed against McDonald’s in the United States over systemic issues of sexual harassment in restaurants, representing 5,000 women at over 100 McDonald’s locations. A judge denied the company’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit in 2021.
In April, McDonald’s reached a $1.5 million settlement in a separate class action lawsuit filed in 2019 over sexual harassment issues in Michigan.
On July 28, an employee of a McDonald’s in New Orleans, Louisiana filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s for workplace sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting it to management in late 2020 and early 2021.
An international coalition of trade unions in 2020 filed a complaint with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in the Netherlands against McDonald’s, accusing the company of systemic sexual harassment around the world, citing numerous incidents in the United States, in Brazil and France.
In Brazil, the senate held a public hearing on August 8 on working conditions in fast-food chains, sparked by numerous incidents of sexual harassment and racism at McDonald’s restaurants in Brazil.
Gabriel Milbrat, who testified at the hearing, won a settlement against McDonald’s after he suffered numerous incidents of sexual harassment and racial discrimination while working at a McDonald’s in São Paulo. He quit his job after a sexually harassing manager caught him in the break room and ejaculated on him.
“That was my cue to leave McDonald’s, leave everything behind. It was in the middle of a pandemic and my mom was sick at the time, she had had an accident at work, and I was like and asking God, come on there is a pandemic, everything is closed, how can I get another job because I was the only person who had a salary at home?” Milbrat told the Guardian.
McDonald’s has also faced numerous other abuse allegations around the world, including a recent $1.3 billion settlement for tax evasion in France and was forced to remove antitrust clauses from franchise agreements in Italy after an investigation into anti-competitive issues that began in 2021.
In Australia, a union representing more than 250,000 current and former McDonald’s employees filed a lawsuit in August seeking up to $250 million in alleged unpaid wages for denied rest breaks.
In the United States, workers have denounced other forms of retaliation and discrimination at McDonald’s, in addition to low wages and working conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Seberiana Reymundo, a McDonald’s employee in Saratoga, Calif., for 15 years, filed a lawsuit earlier this year for not being paid sick leave while battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. She also claimed her hours were reduced after asking for accommodations at work while she was awaiting a liver transplant.
“They said, ‘You’re of no use to me,'” Reymundo said. “My doctor wrote a note, I received the note and I took it to my superiors and after I presented them with my doctor’s note and that’s when they started to exercise retaliation against me.”
McDonald’s has not commented specifically on the allegations or lawsuits.
Regarding the US allegations, a spokesperson said in an email: “McDonald’s has made it clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. Everyone who works under the Arches should be able to report to work with confidence every day in a safe, respectful and inclusive place. As announced in 2021, McDonald’s is requiring global brand standards in all restaurants worldwide beginning January 1, 2022, to reinforce our commitment to these values.
Regarding Brazil’s allegations, the spokesperson added: “Arcos Dorados, the company that operates McDonald’s restaurants in 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, does not tolerate any practice of harassment or discrimination.”