Naperville Business Lawyer on the Valuable Lesson Offered by McDonald’s Protests Regarding Sexual Harassment

sexual harassment, Naperville business law attorneyOne of the most important parts of owning a business is ensuring that your employees have a safe and productive work environment. Part of this responsibility includes preventing sexual harassment and effectively handling any complaints about sexual harassment or harassing behavior. The issue of how men and women interact in the workforce has never been more relevant than now. From national news anchors to tech company executives to professional athletes, more and more people are being accused of inappropriate sexual behavior at work. Most recently, the fast food company McDonald’s made headlines after workers at restaurants across the country went “on strike” to protest what they say is a long history of unaddressed sexual harassment.

Fast Food Workers Say McDonald’s Is Not Doing Enough to Prevent Sexual Harassment

Many individuals’ first job is working at a fast food restaurant. McDonald’s has a workforce with many young employees. Some say that this makes fast food workers especially vulnerable to sexual harassment. Employees with little work experience may not even realize that certain sexually-charged behaviors they tolerated were harassment.

Another factor which may make restaurant workers more likely to be harassed is that many fast food chains like McDonald’s are owned by franchisees. This means that they may not have human resources departments or even official sexual harassment policies. This is a major oversight. Every business, no matter how big or small, should have official, documented policies and procedures with regard to sexual harassment. To neglect this is to put yourself at serious risk as a business owner.

Some Staff Feared Retaliation If They Reported Their Sexual Harassment

Protesters at McDonald’s, many of whom were employees who had been harassed themselves, held signs with phrases like “Keep your hands off my thighs!” and “#MeToo.” Some workers said that they knew their supervisors or coworkers’ behavior was unacceptable, but they were afraid to report the abuse. Other McDonald’s employees have alleged that they did attempt to report sexual harassment but experienced retaliation as a result. Approximately ten McDonald’s employees have filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) so far, and there are probably more to come.

Businesses that “punish” employees who express concerns about their work environment or about colleagues’ harassing behavior can find themselves in serious legal trouble. They could be liable for damages to the affected employees as well as be charged fines and sanctions from government agencies. This once again stresses the importance of having a detailed procedure in place for addressing and rectifying sexual harassment.

Employment Law from a Top Business Attorney

If you have further questions about sexual harassment policies or have other business law needs, contact the experienced Naperville business lawyers at the Gierach Law Firm. Call us at (630) 756-1160 today.

 

Sources:

USA Today

The New York Times