WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sent letters to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook calling on both leaders to take action to address the high rate of workplace violence at McDonald’s restaurants around the country. According to a recent report published by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), McDonald’s employees have been subjected to at least 700 incidents of workplace violence in the last three years. The actual number is likely much higher, considering most incidences are not reported to the police or media.
The Senators panned the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) lack of response to complaints filed by McDonald’s employees in Chicago and called on Secretary Acosta to respond to employee complaints of workplace violence, conduct an on-site inspection and consider all enforcement actions. The Senators pressed McDonald’s CEO on the lack of protections for employees and reports of managers discouraging employees from calling 911 and called on him to provide the steps McDonald’s will take at all 14,000 locations to keep workers safe.
“OSHA is responsible for protecting the safety of workers in the workplace, and it is imperative your Department take this mission seriously. Failing to fully respond to employees’ complaints of unsafe work environments will embolden employers to skirt the workplace safety requirements and endanger workers. We urge you to immediately conduct an on-site inspection in response to the employees’ complaint and to consider all enforcement actions at OSHA’s disposal to protect McDonald’s employees in Chicago and around the country,” the Senators wrote to Secretary Acosta.
“Your company is obligated to provide every employee who wears a McDonald’s uniform a workplace free from threats, harassment, and assaults. We urge you to immediately adopt a comprehensive action plan to keep your workers safe, regardless if they work at corporate-owned or franchise restaurants. . . . The company’s response to workers’ safety threats has been inadequate to date. Failure to take more aggressive action to keep all McDonald’s workers safe puts them at risk. Perpetrators of these threats do not distinguish between corporate-owned or franchise McDonald’s, nor should your efforts to promote workplace safety.,” the Senators wrote to CEO Easterbrook.
Instances of workplace violence outlined in the report included shootings, robberies, sexual assaults, battery, and other types of abuse. Guns were involved in 519 attacks, and 288 of the violent incidents occurred between 10pm and 4am. Two-hundred and eighty-one of the attacks resulted in at least one physical injury, and someone died in 86 of the incidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known serious dangers.