In a recent development, McDonald's has issued an apology after more than 100 current and recent U.K. employees have come forward with allegations of sexual assault, harassment, racism, and bullying while working at its restaurants. The fast food chain admits that it has failed to provide a safe, respectful, and inclusive workplace for its 177,000 U.K. employees.
Zero-Tolerance Approach and Training
Earlier this year, McDonald's U.K. signed an agreement with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, vowing to adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards any form of harassment. As part of this legally binding agreement, the company promised to implement anti-harassment training for its staff and provide support for restaurant managers to prevent sexual harassment on their sites.
Allegations and Complaints
Despite these measures, the employees, some of whom were as young as 17, claim their complaints about sexual assault, racism, and harassment were dismissed by senior members of staff. An investigation conducted by the BBC revealed 31 allegations of sexual assault, 78 allegations of sexual harassment, 18 allegations of racism, and six allegations of homophobia.
The testimonies include stories of a 17-year-old employee from Cheshire, England, who was subjected to sexual harassment and racial slurs by a colleague twice her age. Another former employee recounts being choked by a senior manager while working in Plymouth, England when she was just 17. Shockingly, a male employee, aged 16, from Hampshire, England, claimed to have been offered vapes by a manager in exchange for sexual acts.
A ‘Toxic’ Work Environment
One employee, referred to as Shelby, described her experience working in a “toxic” work environment at a McDonald's restaurant in Berkshire, England. She faced sexual harassment from an older co-worker and reported the incident to senior management, but no action was taken.
Despite McDonald's claim that over 2,000 managers have completed awareness training, allegations suggest that complaints were frequently ignored. One former employee shared her experience of quitting her job after being physically assaulted by a male colleague, which was captured on camera. Another employee, Chinyere, reported racial and sexual harassment but was told to get back to work by a staff member responsible for employee well-being.
McDonald's has expressed regret for the situation and apologized unreservedly to those affected. The company assured that immediate support and actions have been offered to individuals involved.