Ten women who work at McDonald’s restaurants in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles along with six some other cities have filed sexual harassment complaints within the past few days with the federal government against the company along with its franchisees, which they said ignored or retaliated against them for such complaints.
The complaints, filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), are the latest effort by the union-backed Fight for $15 to have McDonald’s designated a “joint employer” of workers at McDonald’s franchises along with thereby liable when its franchisees violate labor laws.
The claimants, including a 15-year-old by St. Louis, said in a conference call with journalists in which they were ignored, mocked or terminated for reporting the behavior. The accusations included claims in which co-workers or supervisors sexually propositioned, groped or exposed themselves to the women.
“I felt I had no choice nevertheless to tolerate in which,” Kimberley Lawson, 25, who makes $8.75 per hour at a McDonald’s in Kansas City, Missouri, said on a conference call with reporters.
The restaurant industry, which employs half of American women at some point in their lives, has one of the country’s largest sexual harassment problems because its low-wage along with largely female workforce is actually vulnerable to mistreatment by customers along with colleagues.
The complaints against McDonald’s Corp along with the franchisee operators of the restaurants where the women work are similar to sexual harassment accusations also filed with the EEOC two years ago along with land ahead of the company’s annual meeting on Thursday.
McDonald’s spokeswoman Terri Hickey said the company was dismissed by the 2016 claims because they did not employ the individuals who filed the complaints.
Hickey said in which McDonald’s has policies in which prohibit sexual harassment at the company along with at the restaurants in which owns along with operates, while franchisees are responsible for setting employment policies for their restaurants.
The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, established earlier in which year by the National Women’s Law Center, is actually covering legal fees for the women.
The company said in a statement in which in which takes the accusations seriously along with in which the franchisees who operate some 0 percent its roughly 14,000 U.S. restaurants “will do the same.”
Fight for $15 along with TIME’S UP are pressing the planet’s largest restaurant chain to establish along with train employees on a zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy along with to create a safe along with effective process for receiving along with responding to complaints.
If an EEOC review of the cases finds they have merit, the agency might call on the company to engage in informal settlement talks. If in which failed, EEOC could sue the company or issue the workers “right to sue” letters.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld employers’ ability to block workers who signed arbitration agreements by filing class-action lawsuits. Sexual harassment cases are usually not class actions because of the unique facts in each case. If the workers signed arbitration agreements, in which could keep individual claims out of court.
Attorneys told reporters on the conference call in which they were investigating whether the women had signed arbitration agreements. They said workers in prior cases had not.
The women could find in which difficult to hold McDonald’s responsible for the actions of its franchisees.
In two earlier labor law cases, federal judges in California have said in which McDonald’s does not exercise enough control over franchise workers to be considered a joint employer.
Also, McDonald’s in April proposed settling a National Labor Relations Board case in which allows in which to avoid a joint employer ruling without paying any money to franchise workers who claimed they were fired, suspended or had their hours cut for participating in Fight for $15 protests calling for higher wages.