U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Tuesday called on McDonald’s to improve its protections against sexual harassment at locations across the country and do more to address allegations of workplace harassment, abuse and retaliation suffered by McDonald’s workers. In a letter to McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook, the Senators emphasized how the updated company policies McDonald’s recently announced are insufficient if franchisees – who own the vast majority of McDonald’s locations – are not required to implement and enforce them.
“The McDonald’s Corporation must do more to combat workplace harassment, abuse and retaliation suffered by McDonald’s workers across the country,” the Senators wrote. “After carefully reviewing your public statements and documents, we remain troubled that the procedures, policies and activities outlined fall short of providing a safe and respectful work environment for all workers who wear the McDonald’s uniform.”
“Since independently owned operations make up the vast majority of the over 14,000 McDonald’s locations across the U.S., it is imperative that the McDonald’s Corporation require all franchise locations to adopt the updated policies to guarantee that all workers will be covered by the new protections and support services,” the Senators continued.
The Senators also asked a series of questions regarding how McDonald’s Corporation will promote workplaces that are safe and respectful at corporate and franchisee locations and how it plans to investigate reports of harassment and abuse. In addition, the Senators requested more details on the feedback McDonald’s received from workers and other stakeholders while working on its updated policies.
“For three years, we’ve been speaking out, filing charges and even going on strike to get McDonald’s to confront its sexual harassment problem,” said Tanya Harrell, a McDonald’s worker and Fight for $15 and a Union leader from Gretna, La. who filed an EEOC charge alleging a coworker attempted to rape her in a bathroom stall. “With Sen. Duckworth joining with us to hold McDonald’s accountable, our voices are even louder. We’re grateful she’s asking the tough questions and pushing the company to take responsibility to make sure all of its workers are safe on the job.”
“McDonald’s track record on tackling sexual harassment is dreadful,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “As the world’s second largest private sector employer, McDonald’s is perfectly positioned—if it chooses—to take a meaningful lead in an industry that’s rampant with abuse. And it can start by listening to its workers and acting.”
A full copy of the letter is available here and below:
Dear Mr. Easterbrook:
We write regarding efforts to address unsafe and intolerable work conditions within your company and your statement that “the McDonald’s system has always had an unyielding commitment to providing a safe and respectful work environment for all.” It is positive that the McDonald’s Corporation is working with RAINN to help develop updated company policies to create a safe and more respectful work environment. However, continued reports of workplace misconduct are unacceptable.
The McDonald’s Corporation must do more to combat workplace harassment, abuse and retaliation suffered by McDonald’s workers across the country. After carefully reviewing your public statements and documents, we remain troubled that the procedures, policies and activities outlined fall short of providing a safe and respectful work environment for all workers who wear the McDonald’s uniform. Since independently owned operations make up the vast majority of the over 14,000 McDonald’s locations across the U.S., it is imperative that the McDonald’s Corporation require all franchise locations to adopt the updated policies to guarantee that all workers will be covered by the new protections and support services.
Making this new policy a requirement of franchise agreements would be consistent with existing McDonald’s Corporation policy. McDonald’s already places enormous requirements on its franchisees, including down to granular tasks and food preparation techniques. These mandates are a way to ensure consistency across locations. Yet, when working to protect McDonald’s workers, you have chosen a different approach that settles on merely “encouraging” and “offering” new policies and resources to franchise operators. In doing so, the McDonald’s Corporation is sending the wrong message about its priorities and corporate values and undercutting its own efforts to address these problems.
To understand how the McDonald’s Corporation will implement its new policies and procedures, please provide us with specific answers to the following questions:
It is also important to see the specific documents you have publicly alluded to. To that end, please provide any documents McDonald’s possesses that summarize the information obtained during listening sessions or conversations with stakeholders. Please also provide the poster you have publicly mentioned, documents for the third-party facilitated and interactive training, your new educational modules on harassment, unconscious bias and workplace safety and any documents or materials you have provided to workers or owner-operators regarding the new, third-party managed hotline.
Owing to the importance of this issue, we respectfully request that you submit answers to our questions no later than Monday, June 25, 2019. Addressing this issue is paramount for workers across the country. The McDonald’s Corporation must make every effort to guarantee a safe workplace for all workers who wear a McDonald’s uniform. We expect your prompt reply to these questions, and look forward to continuing to work with you to advance the safety of workers.