Defending Decency
And Civil Rights In The Workplace

Fast-food workers face persistent sexual harassment

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2022 | Employment Law, Sexual Harassment & LGBTQ Rights, Whistleblowers

Hollywood, tech, and media aren’t the only industries in the spotlight for rampant sexual harassment. Countless hourly fast-food workers continue to come forward after facing sexual misconduct from managers, coworkers and customers.

Women are most often the victims

A recent report shows that 2 in 5 women working in fast-food experience some form of workplace sexual harassment. It can come in the form of inappropriate jokes, unwanted touching, kissing or offensive comments about their sexual orientation.

Unlike women working in higher-paying industries, those in fast-food don’t often feel like they can voice their concerns. Nearly 42% of women in the report said they felt they had to accept the harassment or they would lose their job. Those who tried to report the harassment to their employer said they endured retaliation such as:

  • Hour reductions
  • Inconsistent shifts
  • Rejections for pay raises

Because many fast-food workers make close to minimum wage, any loss of income could spell serious financial trouble.

McDonald’s remains at the center of controversy

Workers at nearly every major fast-food chain have endured some form of sexual harassment. However, McDonald’s seems to be getting the most attention for it.

The company has seen countless sexual harassment lawsuits from employees across both its corporate and franchise-owned stores. Additionally, when many McDonald’s employees tried to speak up about the harassment, many faced retaliation for reporting it.

While McDonald’s is pushing for change with new and extensive sexual harassment policies at its corporate-owned locations, 93% of McDonald’s stores are franchise-owned. To many of these stores, these sexual harassment policies are an optional resource rather than a requirement. And according to a CBS News report, many employees at franchise-owned McDonald’s say they received minimal to no training on the new policies.

Fast-food workers can fight back

Fast-food employees should not have to endure sexual harassment in their workplaces. However, some employers choose to ignore their duty of care and let inappropriate behavior slip through the cracks. When they refuse to take action or they retaliate against employees for reporting sexual harassment, workers have options for holding them accountable.