A new video has surfaced detailing working conditions at McDonald’s locations across the United States. Specifically, it addresses the alleged sexual harassment employees at the fast-food chain endure at work.
McDonald’s reportedly ignored instances of sexual harassment in eight states, according to 15 separate complaints that cashiers and cooks filed during the past month with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The victims, most of whom are female, reported having their breasts and buttocks grabbed, hearing obscene comments about their appearance and sexual orientation from bosses and colleagues, and being shown pornographic images by their supervisors.
The video was produced by the activist group Fight for 15, and urges McDonald’s to end harassment in its restaurants. The organization launched nationwide protests on Oct. 6.
Almost all the people in the video say they reported the inappropriate behavior and were told it was their fault, or they were ignored. When they told their attackers to stop, they would allegedly receive responses like, “You know you want it,” or “It’s your word against mine.” Some of them reported getting their hours cut after complaining.
And it’s not just McDonald’s employees. Two in five women working in fast food reportedly experience some kind of harassment, according to a new survey, but most don’t speak up because they are afraid of losing their job or simply don’t know whom to turn to.
After Kristi Maisenbach, a McDonald’s worker from Folsom, Calif., who made $9 an hour, complained to her store manager about ongoing harassment, which included offering her $1,000 for oral sex, he said she shouldn’t have “flirted” with him. Her hours were cut from 30 per week to eight, she said. “When you’re barely making enough to get by, speaking up means risking your check, your next hot meal, your electricity bill,” she said. “It’s hard to share these stories, but I’m proud to speak out.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families expressed disappointment with the findings. “This is appalling,” said Sarah Fleisch Fink, director of workplace policy and senior counsel at the organization. “Women in the fast food industry struggle to pay their rent, feed their kids, [and] buy warm clothes in the winter. We must do more to protect them from sexual harassment and ensure their employers take appropriate action when it does occur.”
In an email to The Huffington Post, McDonald’s representative Terri Hickey said, “We and our independent owner-operators share a deep commitment to the respectful treatment of everyone. There is no place for harassment and discrimination of any kind in McDonald’s restaurants or in any workplace. We take any concerns seriously and are reviewing the allegations.”