McDonald's will train all its restaurant staff after widespread sexual harassment allegations

Originally Published: 14 APR 21 14:30 ET
Updated: 14 APR 21 16:58 ET

    (CNN) -- McDonald's is requiring anti-harassment training across all 39,000 of its restaurants, the company said Wednesday.

The trainings, among other measures, are designed to hold up a new set of brand standards, which focus on preventing harassment, discrimination and retaliation, preventing violence in the workplace, collecting feedback from employees and health and safety more broadly.

"There are no short cuts to ensuring that people feel safe, respected and included at a McDonald's restaurant," McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a statement Wednesday. The standards should help make sure that "at every interaction, everyone is welcome, comfortable and safe," he said.

McDonald's said it is working with independent experts to develop tools that will help franchise operators, who run the vast majority of McDonald's locations, meet the standards. It will start evaluating stores in January 2022.

The chain has been dogged by lawsuits alleging harassment and discriminationwithin its ranks in recent years, at both the franchise and corporate level.

Earlier this year, a "CBS Sunday Morning" story outlined allegations from female employees who said they have been discriminated against and faced sexual harassment at work from male employees. Dozens of women "from across the country [had] remarkably similar accounts of workplace abuse and harassment," CBS News said.

The story sparked a response from McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski, who said that sexual harassment against restaurant employees "will not be tolerated" at McDonald's.

"Let me say plainly: every single person working under the Arches must have a safe and respectful work environment," Kempczinski wrote in a statement at the time. "Sexual harassment in the workplace is an affront to everything we stand for as a system." He also said that he had called for a "review [of] our current policies and programs regarding workplace safety."

Last year, McDonald's also launched an investigation into allegations of possible misconduct within its human resources department in relation to the behavior of former CEO Steve Easterbrook.

Easterbrook was fired from McDonald's in 2019 because of a relationship with an employee. Last year, McDonald's sued him for allegedly lying to the board about the extent of his relationships with employees.

— CNN Business's Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.

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