McDonald's workers claim sexual harassment, protest outside Chicago HQ

Evelyn Holmes Image
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
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McDonald's workers across the country have filed a series of complaints and lawsuits claiming sexual harassment on the job. They protested outside McDonald's headquarters in Chicag

CHICAGO (WLS) -- McDonald's workers across the country have filed a series of complaints and lawsuits claiming sexual harassment on the job. They say the fast food giant promised but failed to address the issue.

Workers and their supporters protested outside McDonald's headquarters in Chicago on Tuesday.

In this new batch of complaints, the McDonald's workers said they continue to be subjected to repeated sexual harassment and then face retaliation when they complain about it.

"He nearly took every opportunity to touch me or brush up against me," said Brittany Hoyos, a former McDonald's worker.

Hoyos told her story publicly for the first time on Tuesday. She said it was three years ago - when she was just 16 years old - that a manager began harassing her at the Tucson, Arizona McDonald's where she worked.

"One night he even tried to kiss me, but I turned him down. After I rejected that kiss, he seemed to turn the whole store against me." she said.

She was fired after she says her complaints brought retaliation for both her and her mother who also worked there. Maribel Hoyos eventually quit her $11-an-hour job after she was demoted and kicked out of a management training program.

"Our family is currently at risk of losing our housing because we fell behind on our rent," Hoyos said.

These women were among the dozens of McDonald's fast food workers telling their stores of sexual harassment at the fast food giant as their supporters protested outside the company's Chicago headquarters.

New sexual harassment complaints by current and former McDonald's female workers have been filed against the company - mostly with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - alleging illegal conduct in both corporate and franchise McDonald's restaurants across 20 cities, including Chicago.

The legal action is being supported by the Times Up Legal Defense Fund and the Fight for 15 group.

"I was here a year ago today and we heard stories very similar to the stories that you're hearing today," said Sharyn Tejani, Time's Up Legal Defense Fund. "And that should have been enough."

The claims come a week before the corporation's annual meeting. A 23-year-old single mother, Jameilia Fairley, who's been harassed while working in a corporate owned McDonald's in Sandford, Fla. - says she hopes her voice will bring change.

"I want her [my daughter] to be proud of me and know that her mom stood up for what is right."

McDonald's has more than 14,000 restaurants in North America. A spokesperson says the company has clarified its policies on harassment and they are on posters at all restaurants. An Interactive training program has also been created, along with a third party-managed anonymous hotline, and franchise owners are encouraged to take advantage of the new resources.