McDonald’s employees in New York may have a better working environment if a complaint filed by a coalition of international labor unions is successful in getting the company to change what is alleged to be a systemic problem of sexual harassment and assault. Tens of millions of workers are represented by the organizations that filed the complaint. Those organizations are the Service Employees International Union, representing workers in Canada and the United States; Brazil’s União Geral dos Trabalhadores; the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions; and the International Union of Foodworkers.
Two of the company’s major investors are named in the complaint as well. It was filed in the Netherlands and alleges that the guidelines of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have been violated. The goal of the complaint is to have the Dutch National Contact Point set up mediation between McDonald’s and worker’s unions to address the issues. The complaint was filed in the Netherlands because Dutch-based corporate entities are required to manage franchise relations.
A woman who filed a class action lawsuit along with one other employee in Florida in April says that the company has a worldwide problem with sexual harassment. She and her coworker say they faced corporate retaliation after reporting harassment.
Fear of retaliation is one reason many people do not file sexual harassment complaints. Sexual harassment can also be difficult to prove, and in some cases, people fear that it will hurt their career. However, employees are supposed to be protected against sexual harassment in the workplace, and individuals who are dealing with it may want to consult an attorney to discuss employee rights and what steps to take. Employers may also be held responsible for any retaliatory actions, which could include lack of promotion or termination.