What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 18 May 2020 – 24 May 2020

McDonald’s Being Sued Globally For Sexual Harassment

The International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) has filed a lawsuit against global fast-food chain McDonald’s, alleging sexual harassment on an international scale. In proceedings commenced in the Netherlands, the IUF detailed allegations of ‘attempted rape, indecent exposure, groping, and sexual offers’ against the global company. The Union claimed that sexual harassment is rampant in McDonald’s outlets across the world, including in Australia. The International Union of Foodworkers cites global management’s failure to address issues of systemic sexual harassment as one of the reasons for the legal proceedings. ‘McDonald’s workers have sounded the alarm about sexual harassment and gender-based violence for years, but the company has failed to take meaningful action to address the problem,’ IUF General Secretary Sue Longley said at a May 18 press conference. When contacted for comment, a McDonald’s spokesperson maintained that ‘[t]he health and safety of [employees] is [McDonald’s] priority and we take any incidents or accusations of harassment in the workplace extremely seriously.’ ‘We have robust policies in place to guide, protect and assist our people,’ the spokesperson continued. This includes a policy which requires all McDonald’s restaurants to have CCTV installed, to capture footage from both drive-thru outlets and restaurants. Despite this precaution, Josh Cullinan, Secretary of Australia’s Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU), said McDonald’s has refused to install cameras in all outlets to capture offenders. ‘Which means we have repeat offenders sexually harassing young women at drive-thru windows,’ he said. ‘This is all the more remarkable because our members are under constant video surveillance in the workplace.’ Cullinan said the RAFFWU is supportive of the international lawsuit. ‘We are deeply concerned that sexual harassment and assaults are common and endemic at McDonald’s in Australia,’ he said. ‘In some ways it is worse because our Australian McDonald’s workforce is 56 per cent under 18 (children) and 80 per cent under 21 years of age, they are more vulnerable and less likely to come forward about these issues,’ Cullinan added. According to The Australian, the Dutch government has three months to consider whether or not it will pursue mediation with McDonald’s.