McDonald's workers in 10 US cities staged a one-day strike Tuesday inspired by the #MeToo movement, alleging the fast-food giant does not adequately address pervasive sexual harassment at its stores.
Organizers said the strike was the first of its kind and aimed at ending McDonald's failure to curb employee incidents including groping, lewd comments and propositions for sex at its restaurants.
Inspired by the #MeToo movement against sexual violence, protestors said their experiences reflected a wider restaurant culture where sexual harassment is normalized.
At a small, boisterous protest in front of the company's global headquarters in Chicago, dozens of workers and supporters held banners, chanted, and detailed examples of their own experiences.
"I'm on strike and standing here today for change," said Theresa Cervantes, a 20-year-old McDonald's employee who claimed her managers regularly harassed employees.
"Sexual harassment is a universal issue. It's a disease," she said, standing in front other workers who had taped their mouths shut with the words "on strike" or "me too" written on the blue tape.
Similar scenes played out in nine other cities, including Kansas City, Saint Louis, and Durham, North Carolina, where workers in some stores walked out in protest.
The strike came four months after women working for McDonald's in nine cities across the country filed sexual harassment claims against the company with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"Today, thousands of workers across the country have stepped out of the shadows and onto the picket lines," said Chicago community organizer Karla Altmayer.
"We can no longer accept that one out of two workers experience workplace sexual violence under their watch," she said of McDonald's.
Workers want the fast-food giant to form a committee -- made up of workers, company management and leaders of national women's groups - to address sexual harassment.
McDonald's did not return a request for comment.