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McDonald’s Employees Protest Sexual Harassment at Chicago Headquarters

Leen Yassine | The PhoenixMcDonald's workers across the country participated in a strike against sexual harassment. Chicago protesters gathered at McDonald's headquarters in the West Loop Tuesday.

McDonald’s workers in Chicago joined others across the country Tuesday at the company’s headquarters in the West Loop in the latest large-scale protest of sexual harassment.

The protests are in reaction to 10 sexual harassment claims filed within the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in May, according to legal news service Law360. According to a Facebook post by Fight for $15 Chicago, a non-profit which aims to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour, the ten cities where protests were planned are: Chicago; Detroit; Durham, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles; Miami; New Orleans; Orlando, Florida; and St. Louis.

In a press release emailed to The Phoenix by Jennifer Owens, a spokeswoman for Fight for $15 Chicago, the organization called upon workers in the Chicago area to “join the first-ever nationwide strike to combat sexual harassment.”

McDonald’s’ corporate office didn’t return request for comment from The Phoenix. But in an email to the Associated Press, a McDonald’s spokesperson said “We have policies, procedures and training in place that are specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment at our company and company-owned restaurants, and we firmly believe that our franchisees share this commitment.”

Ieshia Townsend, a 32-year-old from the South Side of Chicago, said she began working for McDonald’s in May 2015. She said what is happening at McDonald’s is unacceptable.

“With the no respect, the no maternity leave, the sexual harassment, slurs, the managers not respecting other managers, saying stuff that is inappropriate through the store and not getting what we deserve as far as 15 in a union [it’s unacceptable],” Townsend said.

Townsend said she hopes McDonald’s provides handbooks and training to all employees. Despite McDonald’s’ statement, Townsend says there’s currently no policy in place to combat sexual harassment and they don’t have a handbook.

Aiesha Meadows McLaurin, who said she worked at McDonald’s in Chicago O’Hare International Airport from 2010-2013, had a similar experience. She said she left her job because she “wasn’t being heard.”

Meadows McLaurin said several of her coworkers experienced sexual harassment but it was brushed under the table whenever she tried to take action. She said to be a role model for her two daughters she had to walk away and do something about the problem.

Protestors marched throughout the West Loop chanting phrases such as “ba da ba ba ba, Not lovin’ it,” to mock McDonald’s famous slogan. They also demanded stronger policies and proper training regarding sexual harassment in the fast-food chain.

Employees at the McDonald’s located on East Chicago Avenue, near Loyola’s Water Tower Campus, declined a request for comment from The Phoenix.

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