Senators, presidential hopefuls urge McDonald’s to combat sexual harassment

Eight U.S. senators, including four presidential hopefuls, penned a letter to McDonald’s Tuesday calling on the fast-food giant to address the reports of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The effort, led by Sen Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., called on McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook to require that all McDonald’s franchise restaurants “update their policies against harassment, abuse and employee retaliation,” The Washington Post reported. Those who signed the letter included presidential hopefuls, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Democratic Senators Chris Van Hollen, Richard Blumenthal and Sherrod Brown also signed it.

The letter condemned the alleged “unsafe and intolerable” conditions as well as “unacceptable” behavior in the restaurants. The group then asked when the company would address the reported sexual harassment complaints and probe reports of working conditions at restaurants.

The letter comes after McDonald’s announced last month that it was enhancing training and offering a new hotline for workers in response to mounting allegations of sexual harassment. Last month, the labor group Fight for $15 filed 25 new sexual harassment charges against McDonald’s with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

It's the third time in three years that Fight for $15 has filed harassment charges on behalf of McDonald's workers. In all, around 50 cases have been filed. In addition to the charges filed with the government, civil lawsuits have been filed in Michigan, Georgia, California and North Carolina.

However, the senators wrote they were still “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.”

McDonald’s referred FOX Business to a statement from Joe Jasper, an officer for the National Franchise Leadership Alliance. The NFLA represents more than 2,000 McDonald's franchisees in the U.S.


“There are serious and important conversations continuing all across our country to safeguard the rights of individuals. As owners of small businesses in almost every community, we spend our days in our restaurants and see our team’s as an extension of our family. No level of harassment has a place inside a McDonald’s,” Jasper said in the statement.

“We take seriously our responsibility to ensure that individuals who report harassment or retaliation are heard and protected. We’ve also sought to do much more than listen. Through our collective actions, and through tools we have been rolling out, we’re working hard to provide all of our employees the support and resources they need to work in a safe environment that fosters opportunities and trust. We will continue to listen and we will continue to act in pursuit of a world where no level of harassment is tolerated.”

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McDonald’s, one of the world’s most valuable brands, employs about 210,000 people, according to Forbes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.