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More and more McDonald’s workers claim sexual harassment

| Feb 4, 2021 | Employment Law

People who work in the service industry in Iowa and across the United States are notoriously vulnerable to employment law violations. That can include discrimination, wrongful termination, and not being accorded the rights they are entitled to. In recent years, sexual harassment has come to the forefront as an ongoing problem, especially in the fast food industry. McDonald’s specifically has been accused of various incidents of harassment and mistreatment. Because these workers are blue collar and frequently unaware of what steps are available to protect them from this behavior, they may need assistance in determining what to do.

McDonald’s accused of harassment in three new cases

In the past year, McDonald’s has repeatedly been confronted with allegations that its workers are being subjected to multiple forms of harassment. Three new cases – one in California and two in Missouri – say workers were sexually assaulted and dealt with quid-pro-quo harassment. According to the workers, even when they complained about these violations, they were ridiculed, their claims were disregarded, and they faced retaliation.

This is happening as McDonald’s is defending itself against a sexual harassment case asking for $500 million, filed in April 2020, and a class action filing from November 2019 for the same allegations. McDonald’s has been pursued by the federal government since 1998 for sexual harassment and is one of the few companies in the nation to be pursued by the government in this way.

Still one of the most prominent restaurant chains in the world, McDonald’s has been notorious for its challenging workplace culture – something that it is seeking to change. Workers are believed to be deprived of the basic protections that they are supposed to be entitled to. This is not limited to the U.S. as France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil and other countries had similar allegations in which workers were harassed.

Restaurant workers are vulnerable to harassment

McDonald’s is the most recognizable chain to have this problem, but it is an industry-wide issue. Statistics indicate that the restaurant industry has the highest rate of people who claim to have been sexual harassed with a staggering 70% of men and 90% of women saying they were confronted with this in one form or another. McDonald’s has implemented training procedures to blunt these behaviors. Still, franchisees are not required to have this training and they comprise the overwhelming majority of restaurants with 90% franchised and 10% corporate-owned. Adding to the obstacles workers face is that reports of sexual harassment at the restaurants has not negatively impacted store sales as it remains in the top-three of fast food chains.

Blue collar workers should understand their rights when harassed

A person who is working in a fast food job or in the hospitality industry may be doing so because they want steady income or are even working a second or third job to support their family. One of the last things they want to face when going to work is constant harassment and nowhere to turn to put a stop to it. People may be afraid to speak out because they do not want to make the situation worse or lose the job entirely.

Inappropriate comments, unwanted touching, showing offensive images and persistent staring are all components of sexual harassment. Some employers, supervisors or colleagues might offer advancement or make threats to get sexual favors. This too is harassment. It is wise to understand what steps can be taken to put a stop to it.

When complaining to the employer does not work and informing a corporation what is happening in their franchises fails, it could be beneficial to have legal assistance to consider pursuing a claim in court. With this happening so often at McDonald’s and other restaurants, talking to caring professionals might provide information on how to make it stop and other alternatives that are available to recover compensation.