McDonalds Workers Join #MeToo Movement With Protests Nationwide

San Francisco workers joined colleagues in nine other cities to protest the chain's alleged failure to address sexual harassment.

McDonald’s employees are bringing the #MeToo movement to direct action protests with a nationwide strike on Tuesday.

About 50 mostly female fast food workers protested outside the McDonald’s at 24th Street over the company’s alleged lack of response to groping, lewd comments, and other sexual advances, Mission Local reports. Hundreds of McDonald’s workers in 10 cities, like Los Angeles and Orlando, went on strike nationwide.

Where the #MeToo movement took off with Hollywood and media professionals, low-wage workers with fewer resources are relying on their First Amendment rights. Fight for $15, a movement to pay fast food workers living wages, organized the one-day strike and has been called instrumental in fighting sexual harassment allegedly unaddressed by McDonald’s by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).

“For two years, we’ve been calling on McDonald’s to hear our calls to stamp out sexual harassment in its stores. We’ve been ignored, mocked and retaliated against,” said Adriana Alvarez, McDonald’s worker from Chicago and member of the Fight for $15 National Organizing Committee, in a press release. “Together, we will make a bold statement against sexual harassment, one that will be impossible to ignore.”

Ultraviolet flies a message over Chicago. (Photo courtesy Fight for $15)

Some stories of harassment come from sexual harassment charges filed by 10 McDonald’s employees with the help of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund in May. In their complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, one 15-year-old cashier alleged that an older male employee told “you have a nice body; have you ever had white chocolate inside you?” and her manager told her it was a losing battle.

To bolster its sexual harassment policy, McDonald’s retained Seyfarth Shaw — a law firm defending the Weinstein Company in a class action lawsuit. One of the demands by protesters on Tuesday is for the restaurant chain, at the very least, to drop the firm and ramp up enforcement.

They also want the company to provide mandatory training for all employees to prevent and address sexual harassment. A 2016 study by Hart Research found that 40 percent of women in the industry experienced unwanted sexual behaviors while working and that 28 percent experienced multiple forms of harassment.

“McDonald’s, and the food service industry as a whole, must not sit by idly as more workers are forced to choose between a paycheck and abuse on the job,” said NWLC in a statement. “Today’s brave strikers are demanding improved policies and procedures for handling complaints of harassment, required harassment training, and the creation of a national committee to address sexual harassment.”

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