Fast-food workers, labor organizers and women-rights activists gathered in front of a midtown McDonald’s during lunch hour yesterday to protest what they say is widespread sexual harassment of women in the industry. They carried signs that read, “Add Some Respect to My Check,” and “Sexual Harassment: I’m Not Loving It.”
The protest came a day after McDonald’s workers nationwide filed 15 complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging sexual harassment.
By law, the commission can’t confirm or deny whether complaints were filed. But the burger chain says it takes the claims seriously and is reviewing them.
An online survey by Hart Research Associates of 1,217 non-managerial female fast-food workers released Wednesday found that 40 percent of them said they experienced harassment on the job.
At the rally, workers and advocates described inappropriate touching, lewd comments, groping and retaliation against women who complained.
The complaints also claim that no action was taken when workers brought up the issues to management.
Many working women already know some of the solutions: the same economic reforms that low-wage workers are already demanding.
A McDonald’s worker, who was wearing a Black Lives Matter/Fight for $15 T-shirt, pointed out that “a union would help protect the women’s jobs.”
The worker, who did not want to give her name, also noted that the struggle by low-wage earners to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour was connected to the fight against sexual harassment.
After all, she said women put up with sexual harassment on the job because “they are trying to support their families.”
If they had more economic stability, women could complain more often and sometimes leave such workplaces.
This presidential election year, we’ve heard a lot about economic fairness and about the empowerment of women, but not enough about how intertwined those two issues truly are. Yesterday’s rally was a good start.
Liza Featherstone lives and writes in Clinton Hill.