- Labor organizations from around the world and the Fight for $15 organization in the U.S. filed a joint complaint Monday against McDonald's, alleging rampant sexual harassment in the company's restaurants worldwide, according to Nation's Restaurant News. The complaint details a pattern of sexual harassment and gender-based violence at restaurants in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries.
- The complaint was delivered to the Dutch National Contact Point, which oversees the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The OECD guidelines require due diligence by institutional shareholders in companies to ensure responsible business conduct.
- The complaint is not a lawsuit and will therefore not result in a fine or punishment, but could pressure McDonald's into a mediation process that will develop a global standard for employee safety. McDonald's said in a statement that it will review the complaint when the company receives it.
This complaint is the latest in a long string of recent sexual harassment accusations lobbed against the McDonald's. In April, McDonald's was hit with a $500 million lawsuit for a "severe or pervasive sexual harassment" of female employees. A class action lawsuit was filed in November 2019 in which employees at a Lansing, Michigan, restaurant accuse managers of sexual and verbal harassment.
In fact, the work environment at McDonald's has been under scrutiny since at least 2016, when 15 workers filed sexual harassment complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
For this latest complaint, the accusations are global, including attempted rape, indecent exposure, sexual offers and more, with many women claiming they were ignored, mocked or punished when they reported incidents.
A McDonald’s spokesperson told NRN "there is a deeply important conversation around safe and respectful workplaces in communities throughout the U.S. and around the world. … We believe that McDonald’s and its business partners have a responsibility to take action on this issue and are committed to promoting positive change.”
Notably, the groups filed the complaint in the Netherlands versus the U.S., where the company is headquartered, because they claim McDonald's U.S. has "unclean hands" because sexual harassment "permeates the top ranks of corporate management." Organizers also said that the chain's Dutch officers were its "nerve center" in Europe.
McDonald’s has put some new policies in place in response to its recent complaints, including the launch of an anonymous sexual harassment hotline, work with anti-sexual violence organization RAINN and a new gender initiative aimed at boosting recruitment and retention.
However, this problem doesn’t seem to be going away. In fact, judging by this international complaint, it only appears to be expanding. According to union organizations, this is the first-ever complaint brought to the OECD that targets systematic sexual harassment at an international company, according to The Guardian.