More than two dozen current and former McDonald's workers filed sexual-harassment complaints Tuesday to confront what they say is widespread misconduct at the fast-food behemoth.
Twenty of the 25 complaints were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), according to the labor group Fight for $15; the rest will play out in civil court. The allegations include groping, indecent exposure, propositions for sex and lewd comments — behavior that reportedly took place at corporate and franchise stores.
The action was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, an initiative created to help people who have been sexually harassed at work. Since the fund began, thousands of workers have requested legal help, highlighting the influence of the MeToo movement and its reach beyond Hollywood and the entertainment industry.
Among the complainants is a New Orleans woman whose manager dismissed her groping complaint because she was "probably giving sex appeal" and a Chicago worker who said she was fired after complaining about a manager who offered to expose himself to her, according to the legal defense fund.
The filings against McDonald's are part of a broader push that began in 2016 to hold the company accountable for what cooks and cashiers said are inadequate responses to complaints of harassment.
The Chicago-based company declined to comment for this report. But CEO Steve Easterbrook, addressing the harassment allegations in a letter dated Monday to Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said McDonald's is "committed to creating and sustaining a culture of trust where employees feel safe, valued and respected."
He said the chain has updated its policy to better inform employees of their rights, provided training to most restaurant owners and general managers, and plans to provide harassment training for front-line crew members and launch a reporting hotline in the coming months.