The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund has eyes on McDonald’s.
The fund, which was set up last year to assist victims of sexual abuse with their legal fees, teamed up on Tuesday with the American Civil Liberties Union and labor group, Fight for $15, to file 23 new complaints against McDonald’s.
The fast-food tycoon is being accused of sexual harassment on assembly lines. This is the third time in three years that workers have filed complaints against McDonald’s.
Of the new complaints, 20 were sent to the EEOC, and three were filed as civil rights lawsuits, and two additional suits from previous complaints were also filed, The New York Times reported, making a total of 25.
Three years ago, at the age of 16, Brittany Hoyos said she got harassed by her manager at a Tucson, Ariz., McDonald’s.
“He nearly took every opportunity to touch me or brush up against me,” she said in an interview.
“One night he even tried to kiss me, but I turned him down. After I rejected that kiss, he seemed to turn the whole store against me.”
Hoyos said she was fired after complaints, which brought retaliation for both her and her mother who also worked there. After Maribel Hoyos was demoted and kicked out of a management training program, she eventually quit her $11-an-hour job.
This case is merely one in 5,000 that the National Women’s Law Center has seen requesting funding. Most of the cases deal with low-income workers, according to Sharyn Tejani, who is the director of the fund.
“What we’re seeing over and over again in these claims – for these workers, they’re put in a position where you have to put up with the harassment, or you lose the paycheck that’s keeping you in a house or keeping groceries on your table,” Tejani told The New York Times.
According to Hart Research Associates, two out of five females who work in the fast food industry report being the victim of sexual harassment on the job. Sexual joking and unwanted touching and hugging are among the most common forms of sexual harassment reported.
Presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote a column, “I stand in solidarity with McDonald’s workers.”
“Workers at McDonald’s restaurants are demanding to be treated with dignity,” Gillibrand writes. “That means raising their wages, allowing them to unionize and ensuring their workplace is free from sexual harassment.”
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is also running for president, tweeted on Wednesday:
When we stand together there is nothing we can’t accomplish. Show up at a picket line with McDonald’s workers tomorrow to help us fight for a $15 minimum wage, union rights and workplaces free of sexual harassment: https://t.co/W9Apa8XdI3 https://t.co/2XeoijO1W7
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 22, 2019
The McDonald’s 11-member corporate leadership team, led by Steve Easterbrook President and Chief Executive Officer, has only three women.
A spokeswoman for the company declared that changes began last year to combat this issue.
“By strengthening our overall policy, creating interactive training, a third-party-managed anonymous hotline and importantly, listening to employees across the system, McDonald’s is sending a clear message that we are committed to creating and sustaining a culture of trust where employees feel safe, valued and respected,” she said.
However, just last September, during the busiest time of the day, hundreds of McDonald’s workers walked off the job in protest of continued sexual harassment in the company’s restaurants.