McDonald’s abuse: MeToo hasn’t helped these adolescent employees

The New York Times published its first piece regarding Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in 2017. The incident, and his eventual conviction for rape and sexual assault, prompted others all around the world to speak out about their own experiences with sexual harassment.

Since then, the stories have generally followed the same pattern: a powerful guy in a powerful position is brought low due to his behavior toward female and occasionally male coworkers.

The scalp-collecting receives so much media attention that it’s easy to believe that the MeToo reckoning has reached every area of our society. After all, CEOs are more concerned than ever before about company culture.

Six years later, young McDonald’s employees tell us that they work in a hostile environment behind the counter.

McDonald’s does not run its restaurants; the vast majority are franchises, yet these firms have a certain amount of leeway. They must assure “uniformity and commitment” to the McDonald’s brand, according to the Corporation. In other words, every McDonald’s restaurant in the country provides the same experience and level of service to customers.

Corporate headquarters establishes rigorous restrictions on how these companies work in order to attain this homogeneity. Inspections are performed to ensure that each store is in compliance.

The point is, if McDonald’s can ensure that a burger tastes the same whether you’re in Carlisle or Canterbury, why can’t they assure that every restaurant has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment?

Corporate headquarters claims to take sexual harassment seriously and has numerous rules in place. For example, consider the training that has been provided to all staff since the beginning of the year. People can contact a confidential employee survey and a helpline.

However, our analysis raises concerns about whether McDonald’s is leaning too heavily on young crew members to speak up.

When we originally called McDonald’s staff, they were really hesitant to speak with us. They weren’t simply afraid of losing their jobs; they were also afraid of being exposed as snitches. We traveled throughout the country for four months to meet them and create trust. We guaranteed them anonymity in exchange for their cooperation. Over the course of four months, we interviewed over 100 employees who wanted to share their experiences. However, we were only able to persuade a few people to speak on the record.

It’s hardly shocking that they’re terrified. Many people start working at McDonald’s when they are 16 years old. It is their first employment. They are expected to obey authority. Yet, we’re told all too often, the individuals in control aren’t behaving like the adults in the room.

And the rooms are cramped. That’s another interesting aspect of this narrative. We’re not talking about department stores here; we’ve been warned about how small the kitchens can be. In such cramped quarters, it’s difficult to believe that a store manager can’t rapidly get a sense of how employees are treating one another. McDonald’s told the BBC in a statement that there was “simply no place for harassment, abuse, or discrimination” at the corporation.

Shelby, an 18-year-old from Berkshire, shared her opinion: If McDonald’s was truly concerned about sexual harassment, they would take action.

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