At a franchised company like McDonald’s, workers in Boca Raton share a common corporate identity with those in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities. In May, 10 female McDonald’s workers filed federal complaints of sexual harassment against the company and franchise holders. The employees said that the corporation had either ignored their complaints entirely or illegally retaliated against them for making the complaints.
The complaints were filed in an initiative backed by the Fight for $15 labor campaign to raise the minimum wage. Filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the complaints are part of an effort to push for McDonald’s to be recognized as a joint employer of workers at all local restaurant franchises. This would mean that the workers across the country not only share corporate branding and identity but also a responsible party for labor law violations like sexual harassment at work. In 2016, McDonald’s had been dismissed from similar complaints as it was not considered a joint employer.
The women who filed the complaints, including one 15-year-old teen from St. Louis, held a conference call with journalists and their lawyers. They said that they had been mocked, ignored and even fired for reporting unwelcome sexual advances and other harassing behavior. In some cases, the women received unwelcome sexual propositions; in others, co-workers reportedly exposed themselves to or groped the women. Workers in the restaurant industry can be particularly vulnerable to harassing behavior because they are often female and earn low wages.
Individuals can be subject to sexual harassment at work whether they are employed in a restaurant, in the trades or in a corporate office. People who have been subjected to pervasive, unwanted sexual behavior in the workplace may wish to consult with an employment attorney for sexual harassment legal assistance.