- By Lucy Hooker & Faarea Masud
- Business Journalists, BBC News
McDonald’s employees who have experienced sexual harassment or other abuse must follow the company’s complaints process, the Prime Minister has said.
More McDonald’s employees and former employees have come forward since the BBC first reported dozens of allegations about the fast food chain.
Rishi Sunak said it was now the company’s responsibility to “take the right steps”.
McDonald’s said staff can call a confidential hotline.
The company said all allegations will be thoroughly investigated whenever details are shared.
All proven violations of McDonald’s code of conduct would be punished with “the most severe measures the company can legally impose, up to and including dismissal”, he said.
Mr Sunak told BBC News: ‘Anyone involved should come forward and speak to the company’s complaints process, and that is the right way to deal with this issue.’
Many McDonald’s employees and former employees who have come forward told the BBC they had already contacted the company about what they had experienced, but no action had been taken.
Liv said she had been ‘reported’, including sexist remarks, and that a senior manager at her east of England branch also made racist and homophobic comments.
She decided to file a complaint.
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said. She said the branch was “too OK” with a toxic culture of racism and sexism.
“Having such a culture in such a large company is not acceptable,” Liv said.
She alleges that the principal was not disciplined and that his behavior did not improve. Eventually, she quit.
Her father, Steve, said the staff’s lack of empathy for his daughter was “heartbreaking”.
Linda, alias, is currently employed at a McDonald’s branch in Wales.
She says she complained about a much older male colleague who repeatedly tried to follow her into the toilet. She alleges that he repeatedly made sexual comments about her in the past two years since she was 16.
After reporting her behavior to two managers, she was told to ignore it and the male colleague is still working with her.
Numerous employees, former employees and relatives of employees have come forward to allege not only a toxic culture, but also serious incidents including sexual harassment, assault and bullying.
- Older manager forcing younger worker’s hand down her pants and slapping her ass
- Managers smoke cannabis and take cocaine in offices while at work
- A manager who sells drugs to employees
- Punches and other unwanted physical contact, passed off as “jokes”
- Suggestions and comments of a sexual nature made by managers to very young members of staff, and about them in front of others
- Name calling, including insults
- A manager threatens a staff member with a knife
The BBC has verified that the people speaking have worked for McDonald’s.
Claire Brook, an employment lawyer at Aaron & Partners, said that although McDonald’s is a franchise model and does not directly employ the staff in question, it was “still a human resources and brand reputation crisis”.
“These many, many serious allegations and reports are a stark reminder of the consequences of not creating an appropriate work environment, which presents additional challenges for large multi-location franchise models,” she said.
Alistair Macrow, managing director of McDonald’s UK & Ireland, said the allegations were “deeply distressing” and that he appreciated “the bravery it took from the people in question” who came forward.
“We ask anyone who has experienced or witnessed inappropriate behavior to contact our confidential and independent Business Integrity Line, if you feel able,” he said.
Each of McDonald’s UK’s 177,000 employees deserved to work in a “safe, respectful and inclusive workplace”, he added.
“There are clearly instances where we have failed and for that we deeply apologize.”
“There is simply no place for harassment, abuse or discrimination of any kind at McDonald’s.”
The hotline number is: 0800 0903674