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Senators tell McDonald's: Franchisees need harassment policies

  • Eight U.S. senators are demanding McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook do more to ensure workers are safe from harassment at the company's 14,000 U.S. locations. 
  • "Continued reports of workplace misconduct are unacceptable," said the lawmakers in a letter to the fast-food chain's head.
  • The request comes less than two weeks after more than two dozen McDonald's workers alleged they were sexually harassed at work.

Eight U.S. senators, including four presidential candidates, are calling on McDonald's to require its franchisees do more to protect workers from harassment at the fast-food company's locations across the country. While praising McDonald's for working with an outside group devoted to curbing sexual violence to improve worker conditions and upgrade its harassment policies, "continued reports of workplace misconduct are unacceptable," the lawmakers wrote Tuesday in a letter to McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook.

"Since independently owned operations make up the vast majority of the over 14,000 McDonald's locations across the U.S., it is imperative that the McDonald's Corporation require all franchise locations to adopt the updated policies to guarantee that all workers will be covered by the new protections and support services," wrote the senators.

"McDonald's already places enormous requirements on its franchisees, including down to granular tasks and food preparation techniques. These mandates are a way to ensure consistency across locations. Yet, when working to protect McDonald's workers, you have chosen a different approach that settles on merely 'encouraging' and 'offering' new policies and resources to franchise operators," they wrote.

Signed by senators including Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, California Democrat Kamala Harris and Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, the missive comes less than two weeks after more than two dozen McDonald's workers alleged they were sexually harassed on the job. Labor advocates said the chain routinely brushes the problem aside.

The National Franchise Leadership Alliance, an organization representing more than 2,000 McDonald's franchisees in the U.S., responded through a McDonald's spokesperson.  

"As owners of small businesses in almost every community, we spend our days in our restaurants and see our teams as an extension of our family. No level of harassment has a place inside a McDonald's," said an alliance spokesperson. "Through our collective actions, and through tools we have been rolling out, we're working hard to provide all of our employees the support and resources they need to work in a safe environment that fosters opportunities and trust."

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