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McDonald’s Accused Of Sexual Harassment And Systemic Oppression Of Female Employees Worldwide

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May 19, 2020

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An international coalition of labor unions has filed a complaint against McDonald’s for multiple counts of sexual harassment of its female employees across its restaurants worldwide.

Filed before the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the Netherlands, the complaint cites instances of sexual harassment, gender-based violence and systemic oppression from the UK, US, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Australia and France, where the manager of an outlet had installed a hidden cellphone camera in the women’s changing room and secretly filmed young women changing their clothes. The coalition said that they chose to approach the OECD because McDonald’s Dutch offices are the chain’s “nerve center” in Europe.

This is not the first time the popular fast food chain has come under fire for mistreatment of its female workers. In May 2019, McDonald’s was bombarded with almost two dozen sexual harassment complaints in the US, filed by the Time’s Up Legal defense Fund. In November 2019, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a suit on behalf of a former McDonald’s employee from Michigan, who accused her manager of groping her, calling her offensive names, putting his penis in her hand, and threatening to fire her for rejecting his advances. “There’s a rotten culture from the top. [McDonald’s has] failed dismally to take meaningful action about the problem,” Sue Longley, the general secretary for International Union of Foodworkers, said.


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However, one major challenge for these law suits is that the fast food chain has a history of denying responsibility for actions of employees of its franchises — which make up over 90 percent of its restaurants worldwide. Employees of the fast food chain argue that the problem lies with McDonald’s itself — for its failure to address these violations through strict policy measures.

“Despite being on notice of pervasive problems of sexual harassment nationwide, McDonald’s fails to address such unlawful sexual harassment and the company culture that enables it,” the Michigan suit had claimed. “McDonald’s likes to say that it is powerless to stop the sexual harassment occurring in its franchise restaurants. That would be laughable if it weren’t so destructive to the lives of tens of thousands of workers being left to fend for themselves,” Gillian Thomas, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU, noted.

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Written By Devrupa Rakshit

Devrupa Rakshit is an associate editor with The Swaddle. She is a lawyer by education, a poet by accident, and a painter by shaukh. She has her own podcast called #DateNightsWithD on Spotify. You can find her on Instagram @devruparakshit.

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