McDonald’s issues apology over sexual harassment claims

McDonald’s has issued a deep apology over allegations of sexual harassment and bullying in a BBC News investigation.


McDonald’s has issued a deep apology after a BBC investigation revealed multiple allegations of sexual harassment and bullying at McDonald’s restaurants.

The company, many of whose restaurants are run on a franchise basis, has also committed to investigate all allegations fully and to “the strongest plan of action”. Since the story first broke it has set up an investigations unit to look into the allegations.

In February McDonald’s signed a legally binding agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in which it pledged zero tolerance of sexual harassment. The BBC was then contacted by two former employees which led to it conducting an investigation into bullying and harassment claims across the country. They found more than 100 allegations from McDonald’s workers relating to sexual assault, harassment, racism and homophobia since February.

Politicians, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, have expressed concerns. McDonald’s, which has won multiple awards for best practice in recent years, says: “Every one of the 177,000 employees in McDonald’s UK deserves to work in a safe, respectful and inclusive workplace.  There are clearly instances where we have fallen short and for that we deeply apologise.

“There is simply no place for harassment, abuse, or discrimination of any kind at McDonald’s – and we will investigate all allegations brought to us, and all proven breaches of our code of conduct will be met with the most severe measures we can legally impose, up to and including dismissal.”

It says that over 2,000 of its managers have completed full awareness training regarding sexual harassment since February and nearly all its restaurant teams are now working within the new protections, “backed by McDonald’s Global Standards, a set of stringent and non-negotiable guardrails to ensure safe and respectful workplaces”.

Worker Protection Bill

As the McDonald’s case hits the headlines, organisations including the TUC,  End Violence Against Women, Amnesty International and the Equality Trust have signed a joint letter accusing the government of breaking their promise to women on sexual harassment after its promised Worker Protection Bill was recently amended in the House of Lords, meaning a provision on protecting workers from third party abuse was dropped and a duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment was diluted so that employers now only have to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment instead of ‘all reasonable steps’.

The statement says: Sexual harassment, bullying and racism have absolutely no place in the workplace. But the McDonalds scandal shows these behaviours remain a grim reality for too many women up and down the country – particularly young and BME women.

“Every day we hear stories about sexual harassment, racism and bullying in workplaces. Many workers in front-line jobs – like fast food workers, shop staff and GP’s receptionists – suffer regular abuse and harassment from customers and patients. We need stronger laws to protect workers from abuse and harassment at work.

“But instead of delivering the protections needed, ministers have abandoned women and allowed rebel peers to water down the Worker Protection Bill.  This new law could have put the onus on employers to keep their staff safe from all forms abuse and harassment – including from customers and patients as well as other staff.

“It’s shameful that the Conservative government have broken their promise to women. Ministers must urgently bring in all of the protections they pledged without delay.”

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