25 new sexual harassment claims filed against McDonald's
© Getty Images

Advocacy groups have filed more than two dozen new sexual harassment lawsuits and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges against fast-food giant McDonald's.

The 25 complaints, announced Tuesday, include "groping, indecent exposure, propositions for sex and lewd comments by supervisors — against workers as young as 16 years old," labor rights group Fight for $15 and a Union said in a statement, noting that it had support from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The Fight for $15 and a Union said that McDonald's workers had their complaints "brushed off" and that some experienced retaliation at work.

"Together, the charges reveal repeated efforts by workers to seek assistance from management after experiencing sexual harassment on the job, only to have their complaints brushed off or ignored, or, in some cases, even mocked; many felt the brunt of retaliation — from reduced hours to unwarranted discipline to termination," according to the statement.

The complaints were filed against both franchise and corporate-owned restaurants in 20 cities. Protesters will rally Tuesday morning outside McDonald's headquarters in Chicago and will be joined by "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi. 

“For three years, we’ve been speaking out, filing charges and even going on strike to get McDonald’s to confront its sexual harassment problem,” said McDonald's worker Tanya Harrell, who has accused her coworker of attempting to rape her, in the statement.  

McDonald's declined to comment directly on the accusations, but shared with The Hill a letter from CEO Steve Easterbrook to Lakshmi and Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthLawmakers call for investigation into program meant to help student loan borrowers with disabilities Overnight Energy: Protesters plan Black Friday climate strike | 'Father of EPA' dies | Democrats push EPA to abandon methane rollback Democratic senators push EPA to abandon methane rollback MORE (D-Ill.) detailing the company's sexual harassment policy and work with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. 

Easterbrook wrote that the company is implementing educational training modules on harassment, unconscious bias and workplace safety as well as a hotline for reporting complaints that will be run by a third party. 

"By strengthening our overall policy, creating interactive training, a third-party managed anonymous hotline and importantly, listening to employees across the system, 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. Most importantly, it shows we’re changing to meet the needs of our workforce and the
communities where we live and operate," he wrote. 

More than 90 percent of McDonald's restaurants are owned by independent franchisees, according to the company's website.

The workers are demanding to meet with McDonald's to "chart a path forward to end sexual harassment at the company’s restaurants once and for all."

According to the statement, Tuesday's complaints represent the third round of charges brought against the company by workers in the Fight for $15 and a Union in the last three years. It said that more than 50 complaints in total had been filed.

Updated at 12:07 p.m.