McDonald's workers across the US strike against sexual harassment


At certain McDonald’s restaurants, workers allege that complaints against sexual harassment go unanswered. So they have planned a one-day strike at McDonald’s stores in 10 cities starting at lunchtime on September 18, 2018. These could be the first strikes against sexual harassment in the United States taking place in multiple states.

Not all McDonald’s stores in each city are being protested. Protests are planned for specific McDonald’s stores in Chicago, Illinois; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles, California; Orlando, Florida; Durham, North Carolina; Miami, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New Orleans, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco, California.

McDonald’s denies the allegations, stating in an email to the Associated Press: “We have policies, procedures and training in place that are specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment at our company and company-owned restaurants, and we firmly believe that our franchisees share this commitment.”

The strikers request that McDonald’s create official procedures for responding to sexual harassment complaints. They would also like to require employees and managers to take anti-harassment training.

The #MeToo phenomenon has put a social spotlight on the widespread nature of sexual harassment, especially in the work place. The movement was initially started by Tarana Burke, a black woman, but since it went global in October 2017 has been criticized for not discussing or addressing the problems commonly faced by non-white women, especially outside a professional setting, and excluding them from the narrative.

The experiences of non-white women, especially those in low-wage jobs, haven’t been a large part of the #MeToo conversation.This is despite an established body of evidence that women of color face greater levels of sexual harassment than white women at all levels of U.S. society, going back to the time of slavery.

Black women are strip searched more often than white women for the same situation and are more likely to be sexually assaulted by a police officer. On college campuses, there is evidence that black women may report sexual harassment less often than white women, and officials and community leaders may downplay allegations by black women against black men to help protect against negative stereotypes about the black community. Migrant and refugee women regularly experience sexual harassment and violence throughout their migration and throughout the rest of their lives.

However, the biggest body of evidence for unchecked sexual harassment against women of color may be in the restaurant industry. According to statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the restaurant industry is the single-largest source of sexual harassment charges by women, and it is women of color who are most vulnerable.

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