Justice for Survivors

TIME’S UP Supports McDonald’s Workers in Fight for Justice

McDonald's, Safety, Survivors, TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund

On April 13, 2020, the Fight for $15, with support from the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of McDonald’s restaurant workers at more than 100 restaurants.

The suit, filed in federal court in McDonald’s home state of Illinois, seeks to address widespread harassment in corporate owned and operated McDonald’s restaurants across Florida, which has the largest concentration of stores run by the corporation in the nation.

No one should have to go through what we’ve been through. But we’re strong, and together we have a voice. We’re using that voice to hold McDonald’s accountable.
Jamelia Fairley

McDonald's worker

Sadly, this is not the first time McDonald’s has been under fire. In fact, the lawsuit marks the fourth time in less than three years that the fast food chain has faced a wave of allegations about rampant sexual harassment and gender discrimination experienced at McDonald’s locations across the country. For the past two years, the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund and TIME’S UP have supported these workers in their search for justice:

  • May 2018: the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund supported cases on behalf of women working at McDonald’s restaurants in nine cities across the country. A few months after these cases were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), McDonald’s workers made history when they walked off the job during the lunch rush, staging the first multi-state strike against sexual harassment in U.S. history.
  • May 2019: A year later, after no action was taken to end the culture of harassment at McDonald’s, TIME’S UP released an open letter signed by thousands of individuals and a coalition of groups demanding that McDonald’s take steps to end the harassment and retaliation at their stores. The letter coincided with an announcement that the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund is supporting 23 additional complaints of harassment, abuse, and retaliation against the company.
  • August 2019: Following months of public pressure from employees and advocates, including TIME’S UP, McDonald’s announced a new restaurant and engagement initiative ito address workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
  • November 2019: the company fired CEO Stephen Easterbrook for having a relationship with an employee.
McDonald’s workers march in Chicago after filing new charges of sexual harassment in spring of 2019.

Sexual harassment at work is a pervasive problem, and no industry is immune. More than one in three women and nearly one in four men have experienced sexual assault at some point in their lifetime. And according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), up to 85 percent of women in the United States report having experienced sexual harassment or abuse at work.

Low-wage workers – who are disproportionately women of color – are among the most vulnerable to workplace harassment and abuse. The financial pressure facing these workers — especially during this health and economic crisis — creates yet another reason that survivors may stay in jobs that are fundamentally unsafe and inequitable. For them, leaving an abusive job can mean choosing between their safety and keeping a roof over their heads. As a result, many of these workers remain silent for fear of retaliation – or losing their jobs altogether – if they come forward.

This is a nation-wide problem, the company has known about it for years and we won’t stop speaking out until McDonald’s listens to us.
Ashley Reddick

former McDonald's worker

It’s outrageous that these abuses are still happening. No worker should fear for their safety simply for doing their job and every person deserves to feel safe and respected at work. It’s past time for McDonald’s to take these affirmative steps to protect the safety of their employees:

  • Provide comprehensive training, system-wide, for employees and managers — including what bystanders can do;
  • Require that all stores — corporate and franchised — protect their workers from sexual assault and harassment;
  • Ensure that there is a fair and effective process for reporting incidents of harassment, that employees know their rights and managers their responsibilities;
  • Guarantee that workers do not face retaliation if they report harassment; and
  • Commit to transparency about the amount of harassment that occurs — in all stores, corporate and franchised — and what actions the company takes when it does.