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McDonald's workers striking over harassment

Workers at McDonalds planned a nationwide 10-city strike on September 18. Through the walkout, they are trying to push management to take stronger measures to combat sexual harassment. The lead organizers are women who took employment law action by filing complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC.

Participants in the lunch-hour walk are seeking better procedures for receiving and responding to harassment complaints. They are also demanding anti-harassment training for managers and employees. Their demands include the corporation's forming a national committee to deal with harassment that will include representatives from corporate and franchise locations and national women's groups.

The restaurant industry has vulnerable younger and lower-paid employees. This industry also had 5,000 harassment complaints filed with the EEOC from 2005 to 2015, which was more than any other industry. However, these constitute only a small number of all complaints filed by restaurant workers because only half of the 85,000 complaints filed with the EEOC during that time identified a specific industry.

A McDonald's franchise paid $505,000 to a group of employees in 2008 in accordance with a settlement with the EEOC. The EEOC claimed that teenage employees at that McDonald's were victims of harassment by a manager who allegedly bit their breasts, grabbed their buttocks and offered to exchange sex for favors.

The EEOC also sued a Wisconsin McDonald's over claims that male employees commented about the bodies of female co-workers, propositioned them, kissed them and groped them without their consent. Some victims were female teenagers in high school.

The owner did not address these complaints, according to the EEOC, and fired harassed employees after they complained about this behavior. The owner settled this case for $1 million.

Workers victimized by sexual harassment and other illegal behavior may be entitled to compensation and damages. An attorney can help assure that these actions van be pursued in court and before government agencies.

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