Small, monumental steps forward signified the continuation of the #MeToo movement, but this time in the fast food industry.
On September 18, McDonald’s workers in ten different cities across the nation went on strike. This strike was to protest sexual harassment in the workplace.
The employees walked out during their lunch, staging the first labor strike aimed at a U.S. company in relation with the #MeToo movement. Ten women filed sexual harassment complaints against McDonald’s this past May, however, no action was taken to right the company’s wrongs. These women are supported by the organizations Time’s Up and Fight for $15.
The walkout took place select locations in Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando, San Francisco, and Durham, North Carolina. Employees walked hand in hand, blue duct tape over their mouths, painted handprints adorning their uniforms. “You will hear us today,” was the mantra of the day.
Between 2005 and 2015, hotel and restaurant workers filed more than 5,000 sexual harassment complaints. Lower-wage workers are more likely to get sexually harassed according to The Guardian.
In fact, this is not the first time McDonald’s has been accused of sexual harassment. In 2008, a Colorado location was sued due to the supervisor groping teenage girls and offering them favors in return for sex.
In 2011, a Wisconsin location was sued because the male employees were kissing and groping their female coworkers without their consent. According to a report from Restaurant Opportunities Center United found that 90% of female employees and 70% of male employees have experienced some form of sexual harassment within the restaurant industry.
Due to the backlash on the company following the leaked information, the company released a statement.
“We have policies, procedures and training in place that are specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment at our company and company-owned restaurants, and we firmly believe that our franchisees share this commitment,” the statement read, within an email to The Associated Press.
However, employees of the company disagree with this statement.
“We see no evidence there’s been any change at all,” labor lawyer Mary Joyce said. “Whatever policy they have is not effective.”
Employees demand change, and in this day and age, it can be assumed that they will not be silenced until they achieve their goals.