McDonald's Corp. says it's enhancing training and offering a new hotline for workers in response to escalating allegations of sexual harassment.
On Tuesday, the labor group Fight for $15 filed 25 sexual harassment charges against McDonald's with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund are providing legal support.
Among those filing complaints is Jamelia Fairley, who works at a company-owned store in Sanford, Florida. In a conference call with media, Fairley said she was harassed by two male employees who would rub up against her, pinch her and make explicit comments.
"I stood up for myself and will not let anyone bully me," Fairley said. She said she never received training about harassment or how to report it.
It's the third time in three years that Fight for $15 has filed harassment charges on behalf of McDonald's workers. In all, around 50 cases have been filed. In addition to the charges filed with the government, civil lawsuits have been filed in Michigan, Georgia, California and North Carolina.
McDonald's says it has been working with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network since last year to develop new training materials. It has also rewritten its employee policy to more clearly define sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
The fast food chain says it sent posters with the new policy to its 14,000 U.S. restaurants. The posters also make clear that employees can call a third-party hotline to report abuse. The company said it will begin training store workers about harassment and bias this August.
"We are committed to creating and sustaining a culture of trust where employees feel safe, valued and respected," McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook wrote in a letter sent this week to author and actress Padma Lakshmi, who participated in a Fight for $15 rally Tuesday outside McDonald's Chicago headquarters.
Sex assault resources are available at the National Sexual Violence Resources Center and the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-4673. Since it was first created in 1994, the National Sexual Assault Hotline has helped more than two million people, according to its website.