McDonald’s has been accused of creating a toxic work culture of sexual harassment, harassment, racism and bullying, with more than 100 current and recent UK workers speaking out.
Workers at the fast-food chain, who are under the age of 17, have told the BBC they are being bullied and harassed on an almost regular basis.
The investigation led the UK equality watchdog to launch a new email hotline for staff, adding that it was ‘concerned’ by the findings.
A teenage employee in Cheshire has alleged that her 20-year-old colleague called her a racial slur, asked her to show her gender and told her he wanted to have a ‘black and white’ baby with her.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that a manager at a branch in Hampshire offered a 16-year-old male worker sex in exchange for vaping.
McDonald’s has been accused of creating a toxic work culture of sexual harassment, harassment, racism and bullying, with more than 100 current and recent UK workers speaking out. Photo: General view of McDonald’s store
Shelby, 16, a former worker at a Berkshire franchise, told the BBC she thought McDonald’s ‘really don’t care about their workers at all’.
Chiniere, 17, who works at a branch in Cheshire, said she was sexually and racially harassed by several older male colleagues.
One current worker in Nottingham complained she was seen as ‘fresh meat’ by male colleagues, while others said managers forced them to wear uniforms that were too tight for them.
One former worker, Emily, 22, said: ‘It’s the expectation that if you work at McDonald’s you’re going to be harassed.’
She left her branch in Brighton last year after a male colleague in his 60s repeatedly stroked her hair in a sexual manner, leaving her feeling uncomfortable.
Lucy, 22, who previously worked in Norwich, added: ‘There’s a saying at McDonald’s, “tils on tills” – boys in the kitchen, girls on the counter. The idea is to put interesting people in front.’
McDonald’s employs over 170,000 people across 1,450 restaurants in the UK. It has the youngest workforce in the country with 75 percent of employees between the ages of 16 and 25
Those who spoke out said senior managers often failed to act after employees complained about the behaviour.
‘I think they don’t care about their staff at all,’ one worker told the BBC.
Another 16-year-old worker, Shelby, who left a restaurant in Berkshire last year, said older male colleagues would ‘sneer’ at female workers.
She added: ‘Every shift I worked, there would be at least one comment, or I’d be brushed, a hand brushed over me, or it would be something more serious, like holding my bum, squeezing my hips. ‘
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Shelby explained the impact the alleged behavior had on her well-being.
He said: ‘It really started to affect me especially towards the end of working there.
‘I was calling in sick for all my shifts and then I suddenly left without giving them notice and I never heard from them. I sent an email explaining why I left but they never got back to me.’
Chiniere, 17, who worked at a branch in Cheshire, told reporters she was sexually and racially harassed by a much older male colleague. He raised the concern with a female employee who told him to ignore it and get back to work.
But after months of harassment, his stepfather wrote to the franchisee, corporate headquarters and the police, which led to the man’s dismissal.
The young employee believes that nothing would have been done had his family not intervened in the situation.
Of the 100 complaints the BBC investigated, 31 related to sexual harassment and 78 to sexual harassment. It also heard 18 complaints of racism and six of homophobia.
An Oxfordshire worker, originally from India, claimed staff spoke ‘weird’ languages to get him close while another crew member called a colleague from Pakistan a terrorist.
An outbreak of gonorrhea occurred at a branch in Northern Ireland where sexual intercourse was reported to have occurred regularly between team members.
The allegations come months after the chain signed a legal agreement with the equality watchdog amid concerns over how it handles sexual harassment allegations made by UK workers.
It reached a legally binding agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in February, which means the restaurant group must commit to a number of measures to better protect workers.
At the time, the true scale of allegations of sexual harassment at McDonald’s was unknown, but the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) claimed in 2019 that more than 1,000 UK cases had been reported.
McDonald’s UK and Ireland chief executive Alistair McRae told the BBC there was ‘no place for harassment, abuse or discrimination’ at the company.
He apologized for the claims and admitted there were ‘clearly examples’ where the company had ‘fallen short’.
The boss added that more than 2,000 managers have completed awareness training and that the company has strict rules to ensure restaurants are safe and respectful workplaces.
MailOnline has contacted McDonald’s.
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