October 7, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Fast food workers protesting outside a McDonald’s outlet on Broadway Thursday morning rejected the burger giant’s claim that sexual harassment reports are being taken seriously, and instead painted a grim picture of a workplace where sleazy managers brazenly prey on female employees with impunity.
“This is happening to hundreds of women across the city,” 32BJ Vice-President Shirley Aldebol said. “McDonald's and other fast food companies have the ability — and have the responsibility — to make sure that this conduct doesn’t happen in their stores.”
A newly-issued report finding 40 percent of fast food employees — mostly women of color — have been sexually harassed on the job, demonstrates that is precisely what is not happening, however.
“Sexual harassment is corrosive to an individual’s sense of safety,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women, NY Chapter. “We demand protection for workers. Whether it’s hardhats on a construction site or proper training for the use of equipment — we have to demand an end to sexual harassment to protect people’s safety. It’s not just wrong — it’s illegal. McDonald’s is the second-largest employer in the world,and they have to take steps to eradicate sexual harassment from their workplace now.”
This week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 15 sexual harassment claims against McDonalds, representing complaints from across the nation.
One McDonald’s worker from Flint, Michigan reported receiving photos of her manager’s genitals, and then having the same man rub up against her while she worked. Another worker from Phoenix, Arizona said that her manager actually unsnapped her bra as she worked the drive-thru window.
Maria Hernandez, a KFC worker on Long Island said that the fast food kings aren't taking the problem seriously, and that some workers feel compelled to tolerate the abuse.
“Those that allow that type of behavior get better hours and better schedules,” Hernandez said.
Rev. Andrew Wilkes of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral, said that the sexual harassment going on inside fast food restaurants in New York City and around the country should be viewed as an issue of workplace, gender and racial injustice.
“We have to keep those issues together,” Rev. Wilkes said. “It’s not okay for there to be injustice on the job. It’s not okay for this to be the norm in the fast food industry.”
The Hart Research Associates study that was released earlier this week, finds that 1 in 8 women who have been sexually harassed on the job feel trapped in their fast food jobs and unable to leave.
“Imagine what it’s like being part of the 40 percent of people, the workers in the fast food industry who are routinely sexually harassed on the job,” Ossorio added. “As you put your uniform on, what goes through your mind — will it happen (again) today?”
Forty-five percent of fast food workers who have experienced sexual harassment on the job also report significant health problems including, anxiety and depression.
Thursday’s protest on Broadway coincided with similar actions in front of fast food restaurants in dozens of cities around the country.