Home » McDonald’s: Fresh harassment claims surface after BBC probe

McDonald’s: Fresh harassment claims surface after BBC probe

by Mahmmod Shar

By Daniel Thomas & Lucy Hooker

Over 100 more former and current McDonald’s workers have come forward to allege they faced harassment and bullying at the chain, following a BBC investigation.

The BBC’s probe that found workers as young as 17 claiming they were being groped and harassed almost routinely.

Now more stories are surfacing, putting further pressure on McDonald’s.

The chain said it had “stringent” standards and would investigate all allegations brought to it.

“There are clearly instances where we have fallen short and for that we deeply apologise,” Alistair Macrow, chief executive of McDonald’s UK & Ireland said in a statement given to the BBC.

The BBC’s first investigation heard from 100 current and recent UK staff at outlets of the fast-food chain, who reported experiencing abuse, including sexual assault, harassment, racism and bullying.

After the article was published on Tuesday, a flood of others got in touch to share allegations of similar experiences, including parents of employees.

The new allegations made to the BBC include:

  • An older female manager forcing a younger worker’s hand down her trousers and smacking her bum
  • Managers smoking cannabis and taking cocaine in the offices while at work
  • A manager dealing drugs to employees
  • Punching and other unwanted physical contact, passed off as “banter”
  • Sexual suggestions and comments made by managers to very young staff members, and about them in front of others
  • Name calling, including slurs
  • A manager threatening a staff member with a knife

Some workers told the BBC they felt too scared to report the alleged behaviour, others that they did complain but were ignored by managers or faced retribution.

Emily worked at a branch of McDonald’s in the North West when she was 17. She told the BBC it was her first job after leaving college.

“The environment was really toxic – I was constantly being asked inappropriate things by other, male, crew members.

“At one point a manager groped me, and hit me on the bottom, and then laughed,” she said.

“I didn’t know who to go to… Everyone would have stuck up for the manager, so there was no one I could report to.”

Emily said she told the manager who groped her, to leave her alone. She also emailed the company’s staff support service to report him but received no reply.

Then, a week after the incident, she says she was fired for “being rude to staff”. She is convinced it was because she spoke out.

On Tuesday, the prime minister described the allegations made to the BBC as “deeply concerning”.

Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, said the claims were “horrific” and were about power… older managers exploiting what is, at McDonald’s, a very young workforce”.

The chair of parliament’s Business and Trade Committee, Darren Jones, said McDonald’s should terminate franchise deals if branches were not following labour law correctly.

McDonald’s said it took the additional reports brought to them by the BBC “extremely seriously”.

The chain said it would look into all reports of harassment, abuse or discrimination of any kind and that proven allegations would be met with “the most severe measures we can legally impose, up to and including dismissal”.

One allegation that was investigated at the time it was reported involved allegations of sexual harassment by a manager.

Caspar, who worked at a McDonald’s in the West of England, claimed that a manager tried to kiss him while he was 17.

Caspar said that he had “backed away” but that the manager had put his hand on the back of Caspar’s head, pulled it towards him and kissed him “on the lips”.

The franchisee group supervisor interviewed Caspar about the situation, but the manager was not suspended.

McDonald’s boss for UK & Ireland, Mr Macrow, said there was “simply no place for harassment, abuse, or discrimination” at the company.

The BBC began investigating working conditions at McDonald’s in February, after the company signed a legally binding agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in which it pledged to protect its staff from sexual harassment.

Mr Macrow said that more than 2,000 managers had completed full awareness training and that most restaurant teams were now working within the new protections, which aim to create “a safe and respectful workplace”. He added that the company has stringent rules to ensure its workplaces around the world are safe and respectful.

Additional reporting by Ez Roberts and Hamzah Abbas

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