On May 21, 2019, the world's most recognizable brands McDonald’s Corp was accused in 25 new lawsuits and regulatory charges of condoning sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliating against employees who speak up.
The cases were announced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the labour group Fight for $15, and the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund cover alleging misconduct at McDonald's locations in the U.S, including groping, indecent exposure, propositions for sex, and lewd comments.
The 25 new cases include three lawsuits, two by workers who previously filed charges, and charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The fast-food chain has faced more than 50 such charges and lawsuits in the last three years, the ACLU said. In September last year, McDonald's workers in 10 cities staged a one-day strike to protest alleged sexual harassment.
In response to the allegations, the Chicago-based company said it has more than 14,000 locations in the United States with some 850,000 workers. About 90 per cent of these locations are franchised, and McDonald's has long maintained it should not be liable for how employees in franchised restaurants behave.
McDonald's Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook said his company has improved and more clearly defined its harassment policies, has trained most franchise owners, and will be training front-line employees and setting up a complaint hotline.
"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," Easterbrook wrote in letters to Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth and "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi, who supports the workers' cause.