WXXI AM News

Fast Food Workers Protest at McDonald’s after Sexual Harassment Claims

Oct 6, 2016

People who work in the fast food industry and community advocates gathered and chanted outside McDonald’s on East Main Street and Culver Road Thursday, after new claims of unwanted sexual behavior were made against the restaurant chain.

Four in 10 women working in fast food restaurants have been subjected to sexual harassment on the job, according to a nationwide online survey by Hart Research Associates. The workers said they experienced inappropriate behavior, such as sexual teasing, groping, and sexual names and some have filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

Fast food workers picket outside a McDonald's in Rochester.
Credit SASHA-ANN SIMONS/ WXXI NEWS

The study also reports that women who speak out about the problem often face negative consequences from their employers.

Dana Smith, of Gates, has worked at various local fast food spots and says she has witnessed sexual advances made by employees and managers.

“I have seen people being touched. I’ve actually been touched on the job. Not crazy, but flirting touching. Still inappropriate on the job,” said Smith.

Local community organizers, Metro Justice, joined the workers to protest unfavorable working conditions and pushed for higher wages and better benefits, similar to the national Fight for $15 minimum wage movement.

Member Robert Hoggard said he is hoping the demonstration brings about action, and that restaurants change their policies.

Robert Hoggard, of Metro Justice, spoke to protesters.
Credit SASHA-ANN SIMONS/ WXXI NEWS

“Everybody wants to talk about this anti-poverty initiative, but none of them want to step foot in a McDonald’s. None of them want to step foot in places that actually pay poverty wages,” Hoggard said.

Meanwhile, a representative for McDonald’s said the company is looking into the claims.

“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,” said McDonald’s spokesperson Terri Hickey, “We take any concerns seriously and are reviewing the allegations.”

Earlier reports by the Empire Center for Public Policy indicate that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would lead to hundreds of thousands of job losses, higher prices and higher taxes.

Metro Justice officials are making plans locally for the Global Day of Action on November 29, 2016 and said event details will be released at a later date.