10 McDonald's Workers File Sexual Harassment Claims

McDonald's finds itself the subject of sexual harassment claims from national advocacy groups on behalf of 10 women who have worked at the fast-food giant, the groups said Tuesday.

NBC News reports that the workers have filed charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission "alleging an array of illegal conduct in McDonald's restaurants across nine cities," according to a press release.

Included in the allegations are groping, propositions for sex, indecent exposure and lewd comments by supervisors. When the women reported the harassment, they said they were either ignored or mocked — and in some cases suffered retaliation.

The legal fight was organized by Fight for $15, which campaigns to raise pay for minimum- or low-wage workers. The legal costs are being covered by the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund, launched in January by the National Women's Law Center to provide attorneys for women who can't afford to bring cases on their own.

“McDonald’s advertises all over television saying it’s ‘America’s best first job,’ but my experience has been a nightmare,” Breauna Morrow, a 15-year old who works at a St. Louis McDonald’s, said in a statement released by Fight for $15. “I know I’m not the only one and that’s why I’m speaking out, so others don’t have to face the harassment I’ve gone through.”

Fight for $15 said the restaurants named in the complaints are run by franchisees, not directly by McDonald's. But both McDonald's Corp. and the franchisees are named in the complaints, which is part of Fight for $15's effort to hold the company responsible for wage and employment issues.

McDonald's USA spokeswoman Terri Hickey told NBC News that the corporation is committed to a culture of respect.

"At McDonald’s Corporation, we are and have been committed to a culture that fosters the respectful treatment of everyone. There is no place for harassment and discrimination of any kind in our workplace," Hickey said in a statement. "McDonald’s Corporation takes allegations of sexual harassment very seriously and are confident our independent franchisees who own and operate approximately 90 percent of our 14,000 U.S. restaurants will do the same."

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One of the complainants is Tanya Harell, 22, of New Orleans, who said that two of her managers teased her but otherwise took no action after she told them of verbal and physical harassment by a co-worker.

"I feel like I have a voice now," she said in a telephone interview. "It gives me a bit of motivation and a bit of courage."