Congressmen press McDonald’s to air anti-harassment plan

Fifty-one members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter asking CEO Steve Easterbrook for the details.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Peter Romeo Reality Check

Fifty-one members of Congress are pressing McDonald’s to air the details of its plans for addressing allegations of sexual harassment within its employment ranks. 

A letter sent to McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said the 51 congressional signees were concerned about reports that have surfaced of inappropriate behavior aimed at female employees. The alleged improprieties range “from explicit sexual remarks from other workers, in many cases including management, to attempted sexual assault,” the communication said. It called the misbehavior “pervasive.”

McDonald’s has not yet responded publicly to the letter. 

Allegations of harassment have been spotlighted by union advocates as proof the quick-service giant needs to revamp its employment policies and practices, including the wages it pays. Groups such as Fight for $15 have called for raising wages and organizing McDonald’s employees for their protection and benefits. The labor group joined with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund to announce in May that 25 lawsuits and regulatory complaints alleging sexual harassment by McDonald’s managers and employees had been filed around that time period alone. 

“The severity and number of allegations point to a cultural problem that needs to be addressed in order to protect the dignity and safety of McDonald’s workers,” the congressional note read. 

The communication acknowledges and applauds McDonald’s collaborative efforts with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) to curb sexual harassment and violence. “But some questions remain,” it continues. “We would appreciate additional information on the details of the program and how workers were consulted throughout the development process. We would also like to know whether the program will apply to all locations, including franchises, as well as more detail on the timeline for its implementation.”

The request also urges McDonald’s to engage in “a serious dialogue” with employees about “pervasive sexual harassment.”

Signers of the letter include Katherine Clark, the Massachusetts congresswoman who serves as vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, and Jackie Speier, the California representative who is co-chairman of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. 

McDonald’s did not respond by the time of this posting to a request for comment on the harassment allegations and the letter.  

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