LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles-area McDonald’s workers walked off their jobs Tuesday in what was billed as the first nationwide protest against sexual harassment since the #MeToo movement began.
The walkout started at noon Tuesday at a South L.A. McDonald’s location, and comes after several female workers have filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging widespread groping, unwanted touching and propositions for sex.
Organizers of the walkout say the striking L.A. workers were cooks and cashiers.
Besides the Los Angeles location at 505 W. Florence Ave., workers also walked off the job in Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, and San Francisco.
Sexual harassment is rampant in the fast-food industry, according to a 2016 survey by Hart Research Associates conducted for the National Partnership for Women and Families, the Ms. Foundation and Futures Without Violence, organizers said. Forty percent of female fast-food workers experience unwanted sexual behavior on the job.
The 2016 Hart Research survey also showed that 42 percent of women in the industry who experience unwanted sexual behavior feel forced to accept it because they can’t afford to lose their jobs. The Hart Survey also reported that more than one in five women who face sexual harassment — 21 percent — report that, after raising the issue, their employer took some negative action, including cutting their hours, changing them to a less desirable schedule, giving them additional duties and being denied a raise.
The strike comes as union-backed organizations have put pressure on McDonald’s on several fronts for better working conditions, including $15 an hour wages.
McDonald’s responded to the strikers’ complaints in general terms, saying it pursues policies meant to forestall sexual harassment.
“There is no place for harassment or discrimination of any kind at McDonald’s,” the company said in a statement. “Since our founding, we’ve been committed to a culture that fosters the respectful treatment of everyone. 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.”
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