September 19, 2018 2:13 pm
Updated: September 19, 2018 2:16 pm

‘Time’s up clown’: McDonalds workers walked out in multiple cities over sexual harassment policies

McDonald's workers and activists took part in protests in cities across the US on September 18 as part of a nationwide strike to protest sexual harassment in the fast-food franchise. The protests were organized by the workers' rights group Fight for $15. This footage shows protests outside a McDonald's on West Florence Avenue in Los Angeles.

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McDonald’s workers staged protests in several cities Tuesday in what organizers billed as the first multistate strike seeking to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

About 40 per cent of female fast food workers say they’ve been sexually harassed, according to a 2016 survey, but McDonald’s declined to comment on the protests, saying it stood by a statement issued last week defending its anti-harassment policies.

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In Chicago, one of the targeted cities, several dozen protesters rallied in front of McDonald’s headquarters while a plane flew overhead with a banner reading, “McDonald’s: Stop Sexual Harassment.” In New Orleans, current and former employees chanted, “Hey, McDonald’s, you can’t hide – we can see your nasty side.”

McDonald’s workers, joined by other activists, protest sexual harassment at the fast-food chain’s restaurants outside of the company’s headquarters on September 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.Other protests were held in San Francisco; Los Angeles; St. Louis; Kansas City, Missouri, and Durham, North Carolina. The targeted restaurants kept serving food, with organizers saying the goal was not to shut them down.

Protesters demanded that McDonald’s require anti-harassment training for managers and employees. They also want a national committee formed to address sexual harassment, made up of workers, managers and leaders of national women’s groups.

McDonald’s workers are joined by other activists as they march toward the company’s headquarters to protest sexual harassment at the fast food chain’s restaurants on September 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The company disclosed last week that it will turn to outside experts to help “evolve” those policies, including consultants from Seyfarth Shaw at Work, an employment law training firm.

Protest organizers called on McDonald’s to drop Seyfarth Shaw, depicting it as an “anti-worker law firm.” They noted that it has defended the Weinstein Co. in a lawsuit over sexual harassment allegations against former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

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At the New Orleans protest, McDonald’s employees arrived at a restaurant with red tape over their mouths emblazoned with the #MeToo phrase. They pulled off the tape to chant their slogans.

Tanya Harrell, 22, fought back tears as she explained that workers wanted a more effective system for handling harassment complaints. She said managers had laughed off her complaint that a male co-worker had groped her, telling her she probably had given him “sex appeal.”

 

Signs used by McDonald’s employees and other fast food chain workers to protest against sexual harassment in the workplace are displayed on the ground on September 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois

JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images

She said she left McDonald’s for a while in 2017 and is now working at a different store.

Harrell was among several protest organizers who filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in May, alleging pervasive harassment at some of McDonald’s franchise restaurants.

McDonalds employees and other fast food chain workers protest against sexual harassment in the workplace on September 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. – McDonald’s workers in 10 US cities staged a one-day strike Tuesday inspired by the #MeToo movement, alleging the fast-food giant does not adequately address pervasive sexual harassment at its stores. (Photo by Joshua Lott / AFP) (Photo credit should read

JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images

In San Francisco, more than 50 workers and activists protested outside a McDonald’s in the Mission District. Among them was Achon Hightower, a Burger King employee who came from Sacramento to show support for fellow fast-food workers.

“There’s a lot of sexual harassment going on behind closed doors,” he said. “Things like this are kind of hidden and swept underneath the rug. They really don’t do anything about it.”

Associated Press writers Terry Chea in San Francisco and David Crary in New York contributed to this report.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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