McDonald’s employees in at least 10 cities are planning to strike on Tuesday to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment in the workplace and urge workers at the burger chain to unionize.
The one-day strike will target some of the company’s biggest markets, including Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Miami.
Workers will also strike in Charleston, Charlotte, Durham, Marion, Milwaukee, Orlando and St. Louis, according to the protest’s organizer, Fight for $15 and a Union.
“I’m going on strike because despite years of protests, McDonald’s still refuses to take responsibility for the countless women and teenagers who face harassment on the job at its stores across the globe,” Jamelia Fairley, a Florida McDonald’s worker who’s sued the company over the sexual harassment allegations, said in a statement.
“No matter what McDonald’s says, not much has changed for workers like me. I’m joining the historic #Striketober strike wave because I know nothing will change for me, or millions of other workers like me, until we use our collective voice to make change happen.”
The one-day strike comes after a Pittsburgh McDonald’s manager, who was a registered sex offender when he was hired, allegedly raped a 14-year-old coworker, according to a lawsuit filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County.
“McDonald’s corporate continues to deny responsibility for anything that happens to workers in franchise stores,” said Alan Perer, the attorney representing the teenager.
The walkout also comes after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a federal lawsuit that the owners of 22 McDonald’s restaurants in Arizona, California and Nevada subjected workers, including teenagers, to sexual harassment, including “constant groping.”
But the alleged issues at McDonald’s extend further back than that. Last year, McDonald’s sued former CEO Steve Easterbrook for allegedly having sex with three employees in his last year at the company.
In April, McDonald’s announced that it would mandate anti-harassment training for all of its employees.
“Every single person working at a McDonald’s restaurant deserves to feel safe and respected when they come to work, and sexual harassment and assault have no place in any McDonald’s restaurant,” McDonald’s said in a statement.
“We know more work is needed to further our workplace ambitions, which is why all 40,000 McDonald’s restaurants will be assessed and accountable to Global Brand Standards.”
The walkout will come as various industries, especially the fast-food sector, grapple with a nationwide labor shortage that’s forced many businesses and franchises to close early or operate at partial capacity.
It’s just the latest allegations to plague McDonald’s, which has also been sued for racial discrimination, including by former Major League Baseball star turned franchisee Herb Washington.
Washington and other black franchisees have alleged that the company deliberately steers them into low income neighborhoods where they make far less in sales than their white counterparts.
The company has denied the allegations.