WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswomen Katherine Clark (MA-5), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus and a representative of Winchester and Woburn, and Jackie Speier (CA-14), Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, joined by almost 50 House members, sent a letter to the McDonald’s Corporation in response to the growing number of complaints filed by workers alleging sexual assault and harassment. The letter requests information from the corporation on the training they are developing to prevent sexual harassment, how they plan to implement the training across their franchise locations, as well as how they will integrate worker feedback in the training.

“While members of Congress are working to ensure that anti-harassment and discrimination laws are updated and enforced, industry leaders also have a responsibility to implement forward-thinking, comprehensive policies that create safe and healthy workplaces for all workers,” said the Congressmembers in the letter. “The McDonald’s Corporation owes it to its workers and customers to ensure that everyone who wears the McDonald’s uniform is able to work in a safe environment, free from harassment and discrimination. We urge you to engage directly with workers throughout this discussion, as they are the ones who have been and will be impacted by anti-harassment and discrimination policies.”

The Congressmembers hope to elevate the rights and dignity of workers and support McDonald’s as it engages in a deliberative process to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination.

“For three years, workers like me have been speaking out, filing charges and even going on strike to get McDonald’s to do something about sexual harassment,” said Latarsha Smith, a McDonald’s worker and Fight for $15 Union leader from Myrtle Beach, SC who filed an EEOC charge in May alleging sexual harassment and retaliation by her manager. “With Rep. Katherine Clark and other members of Congress joining with us to try to hold McDonald’s accountable, our voices are even louder. We’re grateful to have these representatives join our calls for accountability, demanding that McDonald's ensure safe workplaces, free of harassment, for all its workers.”

“We thank Rep. Katherine Clark, Rep. Jackie Speier, and the members of the House of Representatives who are calling upon McDonald’s to take responsibility for its pervasive culture of sexual harassment,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Gillian Thomas. “McDonald’s is the biggest name in fast food and it is long past time that it listen to workers’ stories of abuse, and collaborate with them to effect real, lasting reform.”  

“McDonald’s has failed to confront its pervasive problem of sexual harassment,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). “McDonald’s can turn its abysmal track record around and take a significant lead in an industry that’s rampant with abuse. It can start by listening to its workers.”

In addition to the letter, Congresswoman Clark is the House sponsor of the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, the first comprehensive bill addressing sexual harassment in response to the #MeToo movement. The complaints made by the workers would be addressed by the bill if it were enacted into law. The bill would:  

• Extend the statute of limitation

• Offer employers required trainings and assistive materials

• Expand Title VII coverage

• Reduce standards of proof

The letter is attached and pasted below:

Dear Mr. Easterbrook:

We write to urge the McDonald’s Corporation to engage in a serious dialogue with its workers regarding complaints of pervasive sexual harassment. As one of the country’s largest employers, McDonald’s has an opportunity to be a leader in the prevention of sexual harassment and discrimination.

We are aware of numerous complaints filed by McDonald’s workers around the country alleging a range of serious misconduct, from explicit sexual remarks from other workers, in many cases including management, to attempted sexual assault. Many of these workers notified management, but they were either ignored or retaliated against in emotionally and economically detrimental ways. The severity and number of allegations point to a cultural problem that needs to be addressed in order to protect the dignity and safety of McDonald’s workers.

While members of Congress are working to ensure that anti-harassment and discrimination laws are updated and enforced, industry leaders also have a responsibility to implement forward-thinking, comprehensive policies that create safe and healthy workplaces for all workers. We were glad to hear that the McDonald’s Corporation is working with RAINN to develop a program to combat harassment, but some questions remain. We would appreciate additional information on the details of the program and how workers were consulted throughout the development process. We would also like to know whether the program will apply to all locations, including franchises, as well as more detail on the timeline for its implementation.

The McDonald’s Corporation owes it to its workers and customers to ensure that everyone who wears the McDonald’s uniform is able to work in a safe environment, free from harassment and discrimination. We urge you to engage directly with workers throughout this discussion, as they are the ones who have been and will be impacted by anti-harassment and discrimination policies. We look forward to receiving your response.

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