FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

My Fast Food Nightmare

Three years ago, when my grandmother fell ill, I chose to delay my studies to work full time at McDonald’s to pay for her prescriptions and medical care.

I knew at the time that my starting pay of $7.45 an hour wouldn’t be enough to live on. I even knew that I’d have to resort to other measures — like selling my plasma — to try to make ends meet.

But I didn’t know that I was signing up to be sexually harassed and assaulted at work, with managers who would only pile on when I asked for help.

My ordeal began when a co-worker began touching me inappropriately. While I was washing dishes, checking the schedule in the crew room, or just walking by, he would grab my crotch, my breasts, or my backside. Once he forcibly moved my hand to his crotch when I refused a request to touch him. On at least one occasion, he said “you want it.”

When he touched me against my will, I felt completely exposed, as if I had no skin. I felt like I was outside of my own body, watching it happen.

But when I asked my shift managers to help, they did worse than nothing. One of them suggested the co-worker and I were romantically involved and that the touching was consensual. The other suggested that I was probably giving the co-worker “sex appeal,” and that we should just take it to the “next level.”

After that I felt helpless to make him stop. I was uncomfortable, embarrassed, and afraid to go to work, but I needed the money too much to quit.

I took three days off and got back into uniform. When that co-worker eventually left McDonald’s for good, I thought I could start to feel safe again. But that feeling was short-lived. Soon, another employee forced me into the men’s bathroom and tried to have sex with me.

Because my initial complaints had been ignored, I stayed quiet about that incident — until now.

I recently joined with McDonald’s cooks and cashiers across nine cities to file charges with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Just like me, many of these women were mocked, ignored, or even fired when they complained about degrading and frightening behavior by co-workers or supervisors.

With the support of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, we’re speaking out to hold McDonald’s accountable for allowing this abusive behavior.

#MeToo has put the spotlight on the sexual harassment of women in Hollywood and other high-power industries, but workplace sexual harassment is also widespread for women like me in the fast-food industry — and companies like McDonald’s are still turning a blind eye.

I now know that 40 percent of women working in fast-food have been sexually harassed on the job, and that one in five of them have faced retaliation for complaining.

Two years ago, a series of other workers filed similar charges against McDonald’s, but I don’t see that anything has changed. As one of the country’s largest employers, McDonald’s can use its enormous power and influence to guarantee safe and dignified workplaces for all employees.

I’ve never felt more powerless than when I was sexually harassed and assaulted on the job. But I’ve never felt more powerful than today. By standing up and speaking out, I’m hoping McDonald’s will listen and make changes so that no woman will have to experience what I’ve been through.

Tanya Harrell is a McDonald’s worker near New Orleans and a leader in the Fight for $15.

 

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
George Wuerthner
How Mountain Bikes Threaten Wilderness
Christopher Ketcham
The Journalist as Hemorrhoid
Manuel E. Yepe
Yankee Worship of Bombings and Endless Wars
Mel Gurtov
Iran—Who and Where is The Threat?
Wim Laven
Revisiting Morality in the Age of Dishonesty
Thomas Knapp
Facebook’s Libra Isn’t a “Cryptocurrency”
Weekend Edition
June 21, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Brett Wilkins
A Brief History of US Concentration Camps
Rob Urie
Race, Identity and the Political Economy of Hate
Rev. William Alberts
America’s Respectable War Criminals
Paul Street
“So Happy”: The Trump “Boom,” the Nation’s Despair, and the Decline of Joe Biden
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ask Your Local Death Squad
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food
Eric Draitser
The Art of Trade War: Is Trump Winning His Trade War against China?
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s Russian Problem
Jonathan Cook
Forget Trump’s Deal of the Century: Israel Was Always on Course to Annexation
Andrew Levine
The Biden Question
Stanley L. Cohen
From Tel Aviv to Tallahassee
Robert Hunziker
Permafrost Collapses 70 Years Early
Kenn Orphan
Normalizing Atrocity
Ajamu Baraka
No Dare Call It Austerity
Ron Jacobs
The Redemptive Essence of History
David Rosen
Is Socialism Possible in America?
Dave Lindorff
The US as Rogue Nation Number 1
Joseph Natoli
The Mad King in His Time
David Thorstad
Why I’m Skipping Stonewall 50
Michael Welton
Native People: Changing Our Ways of Seeing
Peter Bolton
The US-UK “Special Relationship” is a Farce
Ramzy Baroud
‘World Refugee Day’: Palestinians Keep Their Right of Return Alive Through Hope, Resistance
Louis Proyect
The Douma Gas Attack: What’s the Evidence It was a False Flag?
Binoy Kampmark
Nigel Farage’s Grand Tour of Sabotage
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Sanctions are Sadistic and Spiteful
Norman Solomon
Clueless and Shameless: Joe Biden, Staggering Frontrunner
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong is Far From China’s Biggest Problem
Lawrence Davidson
On the Alleged “Preciousness of Life”
Mel Gurtov
Impeach Trump
Rajan Menon
America’s Suicide Epidemic: It’s Hitting Trump’s Base Hard
Dan Bacher
Oregon Governor Kate Brown Signs Five-Year Fracking Ban Bill
Ralph Nader
Congressional Interns and Congress Redirections—A Meeting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail