Why I’m fighting back against sexual harassment at McDonald’s

My union has helped me say sexual harassment is not OK.

My name is Christine Hayes, I have worked at McDonald’s for over three years.

Yesterday, I protested outside McDonald’s HQ in Chicago and stood with other McDonald’s workers to call for an end to the culture of sexual harassment in their stores.

I started to work at McDonald’s when I’d just moved to London. Like everybody I needed a job to pay for the roof over my head, to put food in my mouth and have enough money to survive.

If I knew then, what I know now, about what I was walking into, I would never have taken that job.

Whilst working there, I suffered sexual harassment. It makes you feel extremely uncomfortable. You feel degraded. I can’t put into words how badly I was treated.

Managers did not enforce proper boundaries. There was no training on sexual harassment and proper procedures were not followed. I was fobbed off.

Sexual harassment can make you feel really alone. It’s really difficult to handle a situation like that. You want to go home and just ignore it. Pretend it didn’t happen. But it doesn’t go away. You still have to go to work every single day and face it. You don’t know what to do or say.  

Now, with the help of my union,  I am standing up to say that what happened is not okay. It’s not been the easiest thing in the world to do. It’s really difficult.

It feels hard, but once you do it and you realise the impact it has on other people, it makes you feel great. I’ve decided that I’m not going to be degraded any more.

There are thousands of people, thousands of men and women, out there suffering sexual harassment.

They’re trying to carry on as if it’s normal. But it’s not normal. It is not okay. It can cost you your mental health. So we need to stand up and start saying NO. We need to make sure no one ever has to feel like that anymore.

It has been empowering to meet with other McDonald’s workers who have told me their stories, as I’ve explained my story to them.

When we come together we are powerful. We can tell our stories out loud and together we can change the story of sexual harassment at McDonalds.

We are coming together in a union. A union is the foundation we need to be able to change the environment we work in together.

We shouldn’t have to try and change this alone. Sexual harassment hurts people. No one should have to face it when they go into work to earn what they need to live.

McDonald’s makes billions in profit from our hard work, but you can’t put a price on our human rights.

The time has come for McDonald’s to stop ignoring this problem and start making the changes needed.

McDonald’s must realise that us workers are not going to take this anymore. We are no longer facing this alone.

All of us are going to stand together with our union and sort this problem out, once and for all.

Christine Hayes works at Mcdonald’s in South London and is a member of the bakers union BFAWU

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3 Responses to “Why I’m fighting back against sexual harassment at McDonald’s”

  1. John Stoddard

    I agree with Christine that sexual harassment in the workplace is prevalent and that employers are very bad at dealing with it. I am a man who was verbally sexually harassed by a woman at work in an HMRC local office in the West Midlands in 2015. I felt unable to report it until October 2017. HMRC is still refusing to investigate the harasser or to apologise for what this lady, who is their employee, did or to compensate me for the mental illness (PTSD) that I have suffered for four years since the incidents of sexual harassment, occurred, even though in November 2017, HMRC changed their policy and allowed grievances about sexual harassment to be submitted without any time limit. In March 2018, I was sacked without any notice period or financial compensation for continuing to pursue my grievance about the sexual harassment. As a result, I have asked my MP to make a complaint to the Government Minister in charge of HMRC about their actions and their attitude, from the local managers up to the Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary. It may take a long time to get justice but I am not giving up.

  2. Tom Sacold

    My first job after leaving school and before going to University was as a Mortgage Clerk at the head office of a Building Society. Every morning I had to collect the Mortgage Ledger from the vault and that required a journey passing through the typing pool (yep, late 1970s before wordprocessing). The ladies of the typing pool would subject me to the most lewd and degrading comments straight out of a Carry-On film script. On more than one occasion one of ladies stood at the narrowest gap between desks and I had to brush past her as she lent forward, you get the picture. Howls of laughter from all the ladies as they tried to make be blush. As an innocent 17 year old I thought it was great. I could sue for sexual harassment these days.

    The telephonists, also all women, used to play a trick on any new girl on the first morning. They’d say there’s been and urgent important call and make the girl use the office tannoy to announce “Would John Thomas please see Mike Hunt now!”. Resulting in laughter throughout the office. (Say it quickly)

    Ah. Memories. The good old 1970’s.

  3. sikra

    Allah Akbar!!! Stay at home get married to a Man take care of you as you offspring His sons and daugthers. Women are to stay at home not to walk half naked on streets or on work. Allah Akbar.

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