McDonald's Hit With 23 Harassment Complaints Backed by the Time's Up Movement

McDonald's employees accused the restaurant chain of sexual harassment and said they were punished when they spoke up about it

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty

The #MeToo movement has hit McDonald’s.

On Tuesday, the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund (which was formed in response to #MeToo), the American Civil Liberties Union and the labor group Fight for $15 announced 23 sexual harassment complaints against the restaurant chain, according to the New York Times.

The Times reports that 20 of the complaints were sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and three were filed as civil rights lawsuits. (According to the Times, the EEOC has the authority to investigate complaints and can file a lawsuit based on a complaint if deemed necessary.)

The filings accuse McDonald’s of “harassment, abuse and retaliation,” according to a letter to McDonald’s released by Time’s Up on Tuesday.

“The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is proud to support the McDonald’s workers fighting for their safety, dignity and respect at work, but the truth is protecting the 1.9 million people who work at McDonald’s from sexual harassment, assault and retaliation is your responsibility,” the letter read.

One former McDonald’s worker Brittany Hoyos told the Times she was subjected to harassment from a manager who allegedly touched her and attempted to kiss her. When her parents alerted her supervisors, she says she was demoted and later fired for “minor infractions,” reports the Times. Her mother, who also worked at the Arizona location, also experienced retaliation in the work place.

This isn’t the first time the burger chain has been hit with similar allegations. Last fall, McDonald’s employees in 10 cities organized a strike to highlight the company’s handling of sexual harassment claims.

A protest in front of the McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago is planned for Tuesday.

On Twitter, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi wrote: “I’m in awe of the brave cooks and cashiers standing up to @McDonalds and speaking out to address sexual harassment. I’ll be standing with them today in front of McDonald’s HQ in Chicago to demand their voices be heard.”

McDonald’s did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, but CEO Steve Easterbrook said on Monday that the company had updated and improved its polices on harassment, had printed the new policies on restaurant posters and put franchise owners through new training. Easterbrook also said a complaint hotline and training for front-line employees would be coming in the next few months.

A McDonald’s spokeswoman also told the Times on Monday: “By strengthening our overall policy, creating interactive training, a third-party-managed anonymous hotline and importantly, listening to employees across the system, McDonald’s is sending a clear message that we are committed to creating and sustaining a culture of trust where employees feel safe, valued and respected.”

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