employees in ‘constant fear’ while working at mcdonald’s
The BBC has uncovered a toxic culture of sexual harassment, assault, bullying and racism at McDonald’s. More than 100 current and recent UK staff at outlets of the fast-food chain have made serious complaints stemming from incidents related to unsafe workplaces.
The findings have drawn the attention of the UK equality watchdog, which is launching a new email hotline. Meanwhile, McDonald’s made an apology, saying it had “fallen short” and that all employees deserved a safe, respectful and inclusive workplace.
McDonald’s Signs Legally Binding Agreement With EHRC
The BBC started investigating working conditions at McDonald’s in February after the company – counted among the UK’s largest private-sector employers signed an agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), pledging to shield its staff from harassment.
The agency reached out to McDonald’s workers over a five-month period to ask about their experiences. Of the over 100 allegations, 78 related to sexual harassment and 31 to sexual assault. It also heard 6 allegations of homophobia and 18 of racism.
Complaints Not Being Taken Seriously
A number of workers the BBC spoke to said they made formal complaints only for them to be ignored. 17-year-old Chinyere initially raised the issue of sexual and racial harassment by a much older male colleague with a female colleague responsible for staff wellbeing.
Chinyere was told to ignore the man’s behaviour and get back to work. After months of harassment, her stepfather informed the franchise, corporate headquarters and the police. The perpetrator was eventually fired.
The worker, however, believes if her stepfather had not intervened, nothing would have happened. McDonald’s described her case as “unacceptable“. Several other employees, however, have said they decided not to raise complaints, thinking their work could be put at risk.
McDonald’s Culture Questioned Globally
Some workers said when complaints were made about managers, they weren’t fired, but instead moved from one McDonald’s restaurant within the franchise to another. The company pledged to deliver training for employees in the February agreement.
But the BBC findings have delivered a much different picture. Some staff raised concerns over the training not being taken seriously by managers. The EHRC stressed the need for every firm to protect its workforce and to have zero tolerance for sexual harassment.
Nonetheless, McDonald’s culture isn’t being questioned just in the UK. The fast-food chain is facing hefty lawsuits in the US brought by employees alleging sexual harassment. Most workers at McDonald’s are not directly employed by the company as it uses a franchise system.