Lawsuit Claims Police Were Authorized by McDonald’s to Arrest Workers on Strike

A new lawsuit filed by ‘Fight for $15’ workers in Memphis claims that police were engaged in an intimidation campaign

The harassment campaign started in 2014, and continued through the winter of this year, the lawsuit claims.

A new lawsuit filed by a group representing fast food workers involved in the “Fight for $15” movement claims that Memphis police were given permission by the McDonald’s Corp. to surveil, harass, and arrest protesters. The group, led by 24-year-old organizer Antonio Blair Cathey, suggests that during several peaceful Fight for $15 protests, strikers were threatened with arrest despite having proper permits.

“Plaintiff Cathey and approximately 15 fast food workers were met by approximately 30 police officers who wore gloves and had twist restraints in hand. Several of these officers subsequently followed plaintiff Cathey and some of the workers as they drove from the rally to various other points in Memphis,” the lawsuit asserts, according to Courthouse News.

The lawsuit — which names the city of Memphis, Mayor Jim Strickland, and the police director, Michael Rallings, but not McDonald’s — also claims that officers used iPads to record video of the protesters and appeared to be on orders from McDonald’s itself.

“Plaintiff Cathey was told on multiple occasions by MPD officers that they had ‘authorization from the president of McDonald’s to make arrest[s],’” the complaint states. It also claims that the organizers were blacklisted from protesting at City Hall.


McDonald’s has not responded to media requests for comment.