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#MeToo hits fast food: What responsibility do corporations have to employees at franchise locations?

Workers at the Melrose and Vermont McDonald's.
Workers at the Melrose and Vermont McDonald's.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC

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Southern California fast food employees are having a #MeToo moment.

McDonald’s workers in L.A. will walk out at noon Tuesday, joining nine other cities pressuring the restaurant’s corporate management to address on-the-job sexual harassment. The protestors are asking the fast-food giant to form a national committee made up of employees at the corporate and franchise levels, as well as leaders of national women’s groups, to face the issue.

Meanwhile, a federal lawsuit filed by the EEOC Monday is holding the national Del Taco corporation responsible for a culture of harassment at a Rancho Cucamonga location. The lawsuit says young women working there were harassed by restaurant leadership and faced retaliation in the form of changed and reduced work hours when they stepped forward.

AirTalk sits down with experts in the food industry and labor law to discuss the relationship between corporations and their franchises when it comes to addressing sexual harassment.


Robin DiPietro, professor of hotel, restaurant and tourism management at the University of South Carolina; she teaches courses on restaurant management and franchising; she spent 20 years working at a Burger King franchise group with multiple locations in the Midwest

Kate Bischoff, owner of tHRive Law & Consulting, an employment law and HR consulting firm; she tweets @k8bischHRLaw