McDonald’s faces 25 new sexual harassment complaints from workers

FILE PHOTO: The logo of a McDonald's Corp restaurant is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – McDonald’s Corp was accused on Tuesday in 25 new lawsuits and regulatory charges of condoning sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliating against employees who speak up.

The cases announced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the labor group Fight for $15, and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund cover alleged misconduct at McDonald’s locations in 20 U.S. cities, including groping, indecent exposure, propositions for sex, and lewd comments.

McDonald’s is one of the world’s most recognizable brands, and the cases make the fast-food chain a primary target of a campaign to extend the #MeToo movement, which sprung from sexual harassment cases in Hollywood, to the workplace.

The Chicago-based company said it has more than 14,000 locations in the United States with some 850,000 workers.

More than 90 percent of the locations are franchised, and McDonald’s has long maintained it should not be liable for how employees in franchised restaurants behave.

Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook said his company has improved and more clearly defined its harassment policies, has trained most franchise owners, and will be training front-line employees and setting up a complaint hotline.

“McDonald’s is sending a clear message that we are committed to creating and sustaining a culture of trust where employees feel safe, valued and respected,” Easterbrook wrote in letters this week to Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth and “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, who supports the workers’ cause.

The 25 cases include three new lawsuits, two by workers who previously filed charges, and charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

McDonald’s has faced more than 50 such charges and lawsuits in the last three years, the ACLU said. Last September, McDonald’s workers in 10 cities staged a one-day strike to protest alleged sexual harassment.

Jamelia Fairley, a single mother who makes $9.60 an hour at a corporate-owned McDonald’s in Sanford, Florida, told reporters she went to the EEOC after a co-worker began groping her, rubbing against her and saying he could “give me a ride.”

She said that after she reported the harassment, McDonald’s transferred but did not fire her harasser, while her boss cut her weekly hours to seven from 25,

“Trying to raise a 2-year old on $67 a week is, well, I can’t do it,” Fairley said.

Sharyn Tejani, director of the Time’s Up fund, which is part of the National Women’s Law Center, said having to put up with workplace harassment should not be a cost of making a living.

“For McDonald’s, time is past up,” she said.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Bill Berkrot)

Iowa, Illinois investigating infections linked to McDonald’s salad

FILE PHOTO: The logo of a McDonald's Corp restaurant is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) – The Iowa and Illinois health departments said on Thursday that they were investigating cyclospora infections linked to salads at McDonald Corp’s restaurants.

McDonald’s shares fell 1.4 percent after-hours on Thursday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said it had seen about 90 cases, and the Iowa Department of Public Health said it had recorded 15 cases.

In about one-fourth of the Illinois cases people reported eating salads from McDonald’s in the days before they became ill.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, said in a statement that it had been in contact with public health authorities in both states.

It said that it had voluntarily stopped selling salads at the approximately 3,000 affected U.S. restaurants until it could switch to another lettuce blend supplier.

“We are closely monitoring this situation and cooperating with state and federal public health authorities as they further investigate,” the company said.

The parasite, cyclospora cayetanensis, infects the small intestine, typically causing watery diarrhea and frequent, sometimes explosive bowel movements. It is spread by ingesting food or water contaminated with feces and not directly from one person to another.

Several outbreaks have occurred in the United States in the past several years, especially during the summer months, that had been linked to imported fresh produce including raspberries, basil, snow peas, and lettuce.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru and Alana Wise in New York; Editing by Maju Samuel)

Not so fast: U.S. restaurant workers seek ban on surprise scheduling

McDonald's employee Ashley Bruce poses in front of the restaurant where she works in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

By Peter Szekely

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The text message came as Flavia Cabral walked to a McDonald’s restaurant in Manhattan for her 6 p.m. shift on a May evening. It was from her manager. Business was slow and she was not needed.

Cabral said she was not too surprised. Her work hours fluctuate almost weekly, though losing an entire shift at the last minute happens only once every few months. This time the canceled shift took a $63 bite out of her average $350 gross weekly earnings from two part-time jobs.

“Every week you’re guessing how much money you’re going to get and how many days you’re going to work,” said Cabral, 53, who has been employed at McDonald’s for four years.But a measure of relief is coming for Cabral and 65,000 other New York City fast-food workers whose schedules and incomes often change with little or no notice.

New York recently became the largest U.S. city to require fast-food restaurants to schedule workers at least two weeks in advance, or pay them extra for changes.

The law, which the restaurant industry vigorously opposed, also requires employers to allow 11-hour breaks between shifts, offer part-time staff additional work before hiring new employees, and pay retail workers to be “on call.” It takes effect late this year.

McDonald’s Corp did not respond to a request for comment.

Nationwide, the issue of scheduling is becoming a new battleground in the fight to boost living standards for low-paid workers, waged largely by the “Fight for $15” movement. The five-year-old, union-backed initiative has already helped convince many jurisdictions, including New York state, to raise minimum wages.

In Oregon, a bill that would set regular scheduling for workers at large food service, hospitality and retail companies is awaiting the governor’s signature. Similar bills are pending in five other states.

Not only do fluctuating schedules wreak havoc with tight household budgets, they make it difficult to make appointments, arrange child care and plan family time, workers point out.

The restaurant industry vigorously opposed the New York City law. Combined with higher minimum wages, scheduling requirements will eventually cripple some fast-food outlets, which mostly operate on thin profit margins of 1.5 to 3 percent, it says.

With a business model based on offering workers entry-level opportunities, not living wages, fast-food restaurants need flexible scheduling to survive, said industry advocate Louis Meyer, who runs fast-food operations at New Jersey-based Briad Group.

“There’s no way you can stay in business,” said Meyer, whose company employs 1,000 workers at about two dozen franchised Wendy’s and TGI Friday’s in New York. “It’s like having a disease. It’s going to get you sooner or later.”

Workers at McDonald’s, whose restaurants are mostly franchised, said weekly schedules are usually posted a day or two before they take effect. Still, they say they are often told at the last minute not to come to work or to punch out early.

“You could only have been on the clock for two hours and they’ll tell you to go home,” said Ashley Bruce, 22, who has worked for four years at a McDonald’s on Chicago’s South Side. The Chicago City Council is considering a scheduling bill that would cover 450,000 hourly workers.

Variable scheduling began cropping up in the 1970s as companies sought to maximize profits to better attract investors, according to University of Chicago Associate Professor Susan Lambert, who studies scheduling practices.

“They’re really looking at those labor budgets,” she said. “So, that puts enormous pressure on managers to really keep close track of how many hours you’re using and how sales are going.”

Some use sophisticated “workforce optimization systems” to analyze sales, weather and other factors to determine how few workers they need to remain profitable at a given moment, Lambert said.

Although fluctuating schedules affect mostly lower paid workers, it is a management strategy that is starting to affect higher paid jobs as well, as companies seek to transfer the risk of unsteady revenue to their employees.

The New York City scheduling law was passed with strong support from unions, including Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, even though almost all fast-food workers are not unionized.

But Local 32BJ President Hector Figueroa said winning scheduling rights for fast-food workers also helps his union’s 90,000 building service workers.

“Our members enjoy these rights under the contract,” he said. “But if other workers don’t enjoy them, it’s just a matter of time for an employer in a building or in a cleaning company to say, ‘Wait a minute, why do you guys need advance notice of scheduling?'”

 

 

(Reporting by Peter Szekely; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

 

Hundreds protest over minimum wage at McDonald’s stockholder meeting

Cooks, cashiers and other minimum wage earners join anti-Trump activists on a march for an increase in the minimum wage to $15/hour during a “March on McDonald’s” in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S., May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Frank Polich

By Bob Chiarito

OAK BROOK, Ill. (Reuters) – Hundreds of fast-food workers demanded wage increases as they marched outside McDonald’s Corp <MCD.N> headquarters during the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

The demonstrators were part of a nationwide protest organized by “Fight for 15,” a labor group that has regularly targeted McDonald’s in calls for higher pay and union rights for workers.

More than two dozen protesters were arrested outside the United Continental Holdings Inc <UAL.N> shareholder meeting in downtown Chicago.

“I saw my mother, who worked 30 years for Hardee’s, struggle on food stamps to raise her family and now I’m doing the same thing,” said Terrance Wise, a 42-year-old from Kansas City, protesting outside the McDonald’s meeting in a Chicago suburb.

Wise, who has worked at McDonald’s for three years, said he earns $7.65 an hour working full time. He said he also relies on food stamps to support his three daughters.

“Instead of paying their CEO $15 million, they should give him $10 million and pay their workers what’s right,” he said. The main demand of “The Fight for 15” is a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Easterbrook earned $15.3 million in total compensation last year, according to company data.

Shareholders inside the McDonald’s meeting did not ask about the protests during a question-and-answer session.

Easterbrook focused on the fast-food giant’s plans for delivering food with UberEats and the rollout of new products.

The company says it invests in its workers by helping them to earn college degrees and acquire on-the-job skills. In 2015, the company raised the average hourly pay to around $10 for workers in the restaurants it owns.

However, most McDonald’s workers in the United States are employed by franchisees who set their own wages.

Hopes for an increase in the $7.25-per-hour federal minimum wage were dashed last year when Republicans retained control of Congress in the U.S. elections last November. Opponents of an increase say higher costs would force restaurants to cut hiring, and some businesses would not survive.

Still, voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington have approved minimum wage increases in their states, encouraging advocates to continue pressing their case at the local level. Workers on Wednesday also gathered outside of a McDonald’s store near downtown Los Angeles.

In Chicago, 30 protesters outside the United Continental meeting were arrested and cited for blocking a road, Chicago police said.

More than 100 protesters were arrested during nationwide demonstrations several weeks after Donald Trump won the White House in November. At various times on the campaign trail, Trump suggested U.S. workers were overpaid, but also that the minimum wage should be raised.

(Additional reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru and Lucy Nicholson in Los Angeles; Writing by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jeffrey Benkoe)

McDonald’s Canada says 95,000 affected in careers website hack

A Canadian flag waves beside McDonalds fast food restaurant in Toronto, May 1, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

(Reuters) – McDonald’s Corp’s <MCD.N> Canadian unit said on Friday personal information of about 95,000 restaurant job applicants was compromised in a cyber attack on its careers website.

The information included names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and employment backgrounds of candidates who applied online for jobs at McDonald’s Canada restaurants between March 2014 and March 2017.

The careers website was shut down after McDonald’s learned of the attack, and will remain closed until an ongoing investigation is complete, the unit said.

The company said it currently had no evidence that the information taken had been misused.

McDonald’s Canada said its job application forms do not ask for sensitive personal information such as social insurance numbers, banking or health information.

McDonald’s said earlier this month its official Twitter handle was compromised after a tweet sent from the account slammed U.S. President Donald Trump.

(Reporting by Vishaka George and Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

2nd day of protest at McDonald’s shareholders meeting

Protesters set up tents on the street as they demonstrate outside the McDonald's headquarters calling for higher wages and improved working conditions in the Chicago suburb of

By Justin Madden

OAK BROOK, Ill. (Reuters) – Hundreds of protesters rallied outside McDonald’s Corp headquarters as shareholders on Thursday approved executive compensation and voted down a slate of shareholder resolutions, including those involving political contributions and antibiotic use in meat production.

The picketers are part of a national “Fight for $15” movement that, along with an improving job market, has spurred pay raises at major employers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and McDonald’s, though not to the level demanded by protesting workers and supporters.

McDonald’s, the world’s biggest fast-food chain, last summer increased average worker pay to almost $10 per hour. But those raises were limited to just a fraction of all McDonald’s restaurant workers in the United States because franchisees operate almost 90 percent of the chain’s 14,000 domestic locations.

Protesters called on Chief Executive Officer Steve Easterbrook, the architect of a turnaround plan that is gaining traction with help from a sales boost from all-day breakfast, to share the higher profits with all McDonald’s workers rather than just executives and shareholders.

Workers seeking pay of at least $15 per hour and the right to unionize, and their supporters, have protested at the company’s annual meeting for years. Their actions this week prompted McDonald’s to temporarily close its Oak Brook, Illinois, headquarters for the third year in a row.

“This comes down to holding McDonald’s accountable for keeping workers in poverty,” said Naquasia LeGrand, 24, who traveled 15 hours on a chartered bus from North Carolina, where she makes $8.15 an hour as a McDonald’s swing manager.

Angel Mitchell, a McDonald’s worker from Chicago, spent a rain-soaked night camping out at the company’s headquarters.

“We cook and serve those all-day breakfasts that are making McDonald’s millions and millions, but we can’t feed our own families without turning to food stamps,” Mitchell said.

McDonald’s says it cannot tell its franchisees how to pay their employees. The issue is the subject of a closely watched case before the National Labor Relations Board.

“At McDonald’s, we take seriously our role in helping strengthen communities,” providing many with their very first job, spokeswoman Lisa McComb said by email on Wednesday as protests kicked off.

The “Fight for $15” campaign is backed by the Service Employees International Union and also includes people who work in home care, child care, airports and higher education.

(Additional reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles, Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Von Ahn)