Workers advocacy group Fight for 15 is primarily known for its efforts to raise the minimum wage across the United States. This week, however, the organization set its sights on a very different labor problem: Sexual harassment.
On Wednesday, Fight for 15 organizers announced that 15 McDonald’s employees had filed separate charges against the iconic burger chain with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging they had faced inappropriate—and illegal—sexual contact, innuendo, and propositions while working for the company, the Chicago Tribune reported.
In a video produced by the group, some of those workers describe being groped, rubbed against, and even offered money for sexual favors by coworkers—often their higher-ups.
“It was taking a toll on me mentally,” former employee Kristi Maisenbach told ThinkProgress. “I was constantly afraid and anxious at work.”
Maisenbach eventually quit after her complaints to management about a supervisor who’d asked for oral sex in exchange for $1,000 were allegedly ignored. She claimed that her scheduled hours were cut in apparent retaliation for her having complained at all.
According to Fight for 15, 40% of women working in fast food are subject to sexual harassment—a rate 60% higher than that of other industries.
On Thursday, protests organized by the group—which has the backing of the 1.5 million member Service Employees International Union—took place in cities across the United States to call attention to the recently filed complaints and the “rampant sexual harassment” which inspired them.
At McDonald’s, we and our independent owner-operators share a deep commitment to the respectful treatment of everyone. There is no place for harassment and discrimination of any kind in McDonald’s restaurants or in any workplace. We take any concerns seriously and are reviewing the allegations.
This is far from the first time the Fight for 15 movement has taken on the fast food giant. In May, thousands of protesters camped outside McDonald’s Illinois headquarters to protest for better wages.