Though in the past two years McDonald's has been sued over allegations of wage theft and unsafe working conditions, employees of the fast-food chain have now filed 15 complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming widespread sexual harassment, and that the company's corporate offices have often turned a blind eye.
While the specifics of the charges are troubling in and of themselves—detailing instances where female employees were groped, propositioned for money, and shown lewd photographs by male supervisors—the claims also marks a strategic move for the Fight for 15 movement. For years, the organization has fought to raise wages and improve working conditions in the fast-food world, and the charges, which are currently being reviewed by the National Labor Relations Board, could make the case that the McDonald's corporation is responsible for the conditions at its franchises across the country. In the past, the company has argued that labor issues are the responsibility of each individual restaurant.
In one of the more disturbing details of the allegations, reported by BuzzFeed, a McDonald's worker from Flint, Michigan named Cycei Monae says her supervisor at the restaurant would grab her butt, rub himself against her, and showed her a nude photo on his cell phone. And while sexual harassment is certainly an issue at several companies, Monae says when she complained to her manager, as well as McDonald's corporate offices, nothing was done. Eventually, she quit.
"The daily harassment took a toll on me. I honestly felt sick everyday. I knew what was happening was wrong, but I needed the money," Monae said in a statement to BuzzFeed. "[McDonald's corporate staff monitors everything we do—from how fast the drive-thru is moving, to how we told our customers' bags. Yet when I filed a complaint against my shift manager for regularly sexually harassing me—which included him showing me a photo of his genitals—McDonald's had no response."
Though McDonald's officially has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment, advocates and workers are not calling on the company to actually enforce it.
“There is no place for harassment and discrimination of any kind in McDonald’s restaurants or in any workplace,” the chain said in a statement to ThinkProgress. “We take any concerns seriously and are reviewing the allegations.”
McDonald’s did not immediately respond to First We Feast’s request for comment.