McDonald's employees are set to strike in at least 10 key cities on 26 October to demand action against the sexual harassment and assault of workers. The one-day rally in places like Chicago, Detroit and Houston is organised by Fight for $15 in the US, but it will set the stage for how McDonald's addresses workplace issues affecting the entire global fast-food chain.
"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," said Jamelia Fairley in speaking to The Hill.
In 2020, Fairley and another employee led a US$500m class-action suit against McDonald's over its culture of "pervasive sexual harassment," the complaint said.
Early this year, the company mandated all restaurant staff to undergo anti-harassment training starting from January 2022. The program will also cover steps to prevent discrimination, retaliation and violence in store.
"Every single person working at a McDonald's restaurant deserves to feel safe and respected when they come to work," McDonald's representatives said.
"Sexual harassment and assault have no place in any McDonald's restaurant."
The company recognises: "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 industrial action on Tuesday, however, encourages workers to also unionise amid the lack of effort among McDonald's leaders to better protect employees from violence, according to protest organisers.
"I do believe that we're in a moment where workers are standing up more for their rights," Fairley said, who has spoken with employees who have also encountered sexual harassment on the job. "We want a union to prevent it from happening."