May 22 (UPI) -- Nearly two dozen sexual harassment lawsuits have been filed against fast food giant McDonald's, from female workers who say the chain doesn't do enough to protect them from inappropriate advances.
The American Civil Liberties Union and TIME's UP Legal Defense Fund filed 20 complaints and three civil suits Tuesday with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"It's a brutal reality across the fast-food industry that at least one in four workers -- especially women of color working low-wage jobs -- experience sexual harassment as a routine part of their job," TIME'S UP Director Sharyn Tejani said in a statement. "Every day, workers are forced to choose between getting a paycheck or speaking up about their abuse.
"When they report harassment, workers are often fired or have their shifts cut -- and since nothing is done to stop it, the scourge continues."
McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a letter this month "McDonald's is committed to ensuring a harassment and bias-free workplace." He also emphasized new steps the company is taking to fight harassment. Posters defining sexual harassment have also been sent to all 14,000 restaurants.
A National Women's Law Center study found recently the majority of harassment charges reported to the EEOC between 2012 and 2016 came from the fast food industry.
"Faced with low wages, uncertain scheduling practices and minimal benefits across the fast food landscape, it should be no surprise that women workers are at such high risk for sexual harassment," NWLC President Fatime Gross Graves said. "We won't stop fighting until all people can have safe and respectful workplaces, and women and girls can live with dignity, safety and equality."
McDonald's has not yet responded to the legal actions.