The Fight for $15 campaign has created a support hotline "for McDonald's workers across the country to report incidences of harassment and abuse at the workplace."
The move comes in response to accusations from workers at three East Coast McDonald's restaurants that resulted in the filing of a federal lawsuit Thursday. The suit, filed against McDonald's Corp., McDonald's USA and franchise owner Michael Simon and his company, Soweva Co., stems from the firing of several McDonald's workers. The lawsuit "alleges the company last May simultaneously fired more than a dozen black workers who, 'didn't fit the profile' desired at its restaurants. The highest-ranking managers had told workers that it was 'too dark' in the restaurants and that they 'need to get the ghetto out of the store,'" according to a press release announcing the lawsuit.
The suit was filed by 10 former McDonald's employees of three stories in Clarksville and South Boston, Virginia.
"All of a sudden, they let me go, for no other reason than I 'didn't fit the profile' they wanted at the store," said plaintiff Willie Betts, a former cook at the South Boston McDonald's until his May firing. "I had no idea what they meant by the right profile until I saw everyone else that they fired as well. I worked at McDonald's for almost five years, I was on time every day at four o'clock in the morning to open the store, and I never had a disciplinary write-up. They took away the only source of income I have to support my family."
Here's more on the conditions the plaintiffs in the case allegedly faced, according to the press release:
The complaint contends that McDonald's Corp. has control over "nearly every aspect of its restaurants' operations," and is therefore responsible for the harassment and discrimination workers faced. Several workers contacted McDonald's Corp. to report the discrimination, but the company did nothing. The complaint charges that the McDonald's Corp. representative who conducted regular inspection visits at the stores had learned of the terminations soon after they occurred on May 12, but took no action. And the company did nothing after a local paper reported on the firings.
"We asked McDonald's corporate to help us get our jobs back, but the company told us to take our concerns to the franchisee - the same franchisee that just fired us,"said plaintiff Pamela Marable, a crewmember at the South Boston McDonald's who was fired in May. "McDonald's closely monitors everything we do, from the speed of the drive-through line, to the way we smile and fold customers' bags - but when we try to tell the company that we're facing discrimination, they ignore us and say that it's not their problem."
Highest-ranking supervisors regularly called the Clarkesville McDonald's the "ghetto store," referred to black workers as "bitch," "ghetto," and "ratchet," and disciplined them for rule infractions that were forgiven when committed by white workers, the complaint alleges. One supervisor routinely touched female workers on their legs and buttocks, discussed sexual activities with female workers and offered better working conditions in exchange for sexual favors, according to the complaint.
The NAACP is also supporting the workers, who contacted the organization last year for help with the alleged discrimination and harassment. The Fight For $15's discrimination hotline for all U.S. McDonald's workers to " report incidences of harassment and abuse at the workplace" is (855) 729-2869.