Since 2015, at least 50 workers have filed charges against McDonald’s corporation, alleging physical and verbal sexual harassment, and managerial retaliation to complaints. The complaints have come from all levels. For example, in late 2019, McDonald’s quietly fired former CEO Steve Easterbrook after he admitted to a relationship with an employee. There was no alleged misconduct, but relationships crossing management hierarchies are against policy at the company, due to the potential for abuse.
Now, McDonald’s intends to extend that strict standard of behavior downwards.
Beginning in 2022, the entire McDonald’s empire will mandate worker training against harassment, discrimination, and violence. The training will be mandated even in franchisee-owned stores, which account for more than 93 percent of McDonald’s restaurants, along with evaluations about employee safety. This will apply to all 2 million workers in over 39,000 stores worldwide. Currently, harassment training is only required for franchise owners and general managers, and those working in the Chicago corporate headquarters
“If you’re not constantly talking about values and keeping them in the fore, if you get complacent, then perhaps they’re not as obvious to people or they’re not as inspiring as they could be,” said Chris Kempczinski, McDonald’s President and CEO, to the Associated Press.
“Let’s use this to raise the entire standards for the industry,” he said.
Kimberly Lawson is a McDonald’s employee in Missouri who filed sexual harassment charges against McDonald’s in 2018. She says that it feels like the company is beginning to listen. But she also feels that ground-level workers have been left out of the discussion of what they need.
“The changes announced today didn’t come from us; they came from lawyers and executives. There can be no solution for us without us,” Lawson said. She’s dubious about the effectiveness of training while the models of management remain unchanged. She wants increased transparency from the McDonald’s empire about what they are doing to address how management responds to harassment reports.
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