Thanks to the #metoo movement and resulting climate in the US, sexual harassment is being dealt with like never before. And that’s why women who work at McDonald’s in 10 US cities have planned a walkout on September 18th to pressure the company to address the problem. The walkout will take place at some McDonald’s restaurants in Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando, San Francisco, and Durham, North Carolina.


The women striking say they have repeatedly reported supervisors who grope them, ask for sex and expose themselves on the job only to be ignored by managers, or even punished for reporting the incidents.

“In May, 10 women filed sexual harassment complaints against McDonald’s restaurants with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Some of them are now organizing the walkout in partnership with the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund,a legal aid group for workers who experience sexual harassment and Fight for $15, a labor group fighting for higher wages in the fast-food industry.

It’s unclear how many employees are participating in the strike, but the AP reports that hundreds of women on newly formed “women’s committees” at dozens of McDonald’s restaurants voted in favor of the strike.” 1

(Sexual harassment is a particularly serious problem for workers in the service industry, i.e., restaurants and hotels.)

While McDonald’s claims to have several policies and training programs in place to help franchisees prevent harassment, what seems to be more important to them is the current labor dispute they are locked in: if McDonald’s is labeled a “joint employer” they are partly liable for labor violations committed by individual franchises. Something they deny.

Not McDonald’s first time

But this isn’t their first rodeo. The burger chain has been the target of multiple discrimination investigations in recent years:2

  • In 2008, a McDonald’s franchise in Colorado agreed to pay $505,000 to a group of female employees as part of a settlement with the EEOC; attorneys for the EEOC said teenage girls who worked at a restaurant in Denver were subjected to “egregious sexual harassment in the workplace by their male supervisor.” The supervisor allegedly bit their breasts and grabbed their buttocks, and offered favors in exchange for sex.
  • In 2011, the EEOC sued the owner of a Wisconsin McDonald’s, claiming that the male employees made sexual comments about the bodies of their female co-workers, propositioned them, kissed them, and groped them without consent. Several of the victims were teenage girls in high school.

And those are just a few of the cases the EEOC agreed to take to court. The reality is that most female employees have to pursue cases on their own, something low-wage workers don’t necessarily have the extra income and time to do. And that’s often why the abuse continues. Workers at chain restaurant jobs are often teenagers or adults struggling to pay their bills, which makes them easy targets for abuse.


According to the AP, the workers going on strike have a few specific demands:

  1. They want the company to improve its process for receiving and responding to harassment complaints
  2. They want anti-harassment training for managers and employees as a requirement.
  3. And they want the burger chain to create a national committee to address sexual harassment, made up of workers, corporate representatives, and franchise owners.
We will update you once the strike begins!

Sources and References

  1. VOX, September 13, 2018.
  2. VOX, September 13, 2018.