McDonald’s have been accused of creating a toxic work culture of sexual assault, harassment, racism and bullying, with more than 100 current and recent UK staff speaking out.
Workers from the fast-food chain, some as young as 17, told the BBC that they are being groped and harassed almost routinely.
The probe has led to the UK equality watchdog to launch a new email hotline for staff adding it was ‘concerned’ by the findings.
One teenage employee in Cheshire alleged that a colleague 20 years her senior called her a racial slur word, asked to show her his penis and said he wanted to make a ‘black and white’ baby with her.
Meanwhile it was reported that a manager at a branch in Hampshire suggested a 16-year-old male worker perform sexual acts in exchange for vapes.
McDonald’s have been accused of creating a toxic work culture of sexual assault, harassment, racism and bullying, with more than 100 current and recent UK staff speaking out. Pictured: General view of a McDonald’s store
Former worker from a Berkshire franchise Shelby, 16, told the BBC she thought that McDonald’s ‘don’t really think about their staff at all’
Chinyere, 17, who worker at a branch in Cheshire said that she was sexually and racially harassed by a much older male colleague
A current worker in Nottingham alleged 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 will be harassed.’
She left her branch in Brighton last year after a male colleague in his 60s continually stroked her hair in a sexual manner, making her feel uncomfortable.
Lucy, 22, who previously worked in Norwich added: ‘There is a saying at McDonald’s, “tits on tills” – boys in the kitchen, girls on the counter. The idea is to put attractive people at the front.’
McDonald’s employs more than 170,000 people in the UK across 1,450 restaurants. It has one of the country’s youngest workforces with 75 per cent of its employees being between 16 and 25 years old.
Have you been a victim of sexual assault, racism or bullying at McDonald’s? Those who spoke out said that more often than not senior managers failed to act after workers made complaints about behaviour.
One worker told BBC ‘I think that they don’t really think about their staff at all.’
Another 16-year-old worker called Shelby, who left a Berkshire restaurant last year, said older male colleagues would ‘grope’ female staff.
She added: ‘Every shift I worked, there would be at least a comment being made, or I’d be brushed, a hand brushed across me, or it would be a more severe thing, like having my bum grabbed, hips grabbed.’
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Shelby explained the affect the alleged behaviour had on her well being.
She said: ‘It really started to affect me especially towards the end of me working there.
‘I was calling in sick for pretty much all my shifts and then I left suddenly without giving them notice and I never heard back from them. I did send an email explaining why I left but they never got back to me.’
Chinyere, 17, who worker at a branch in Cheshire told reporters that she was sexually and racially harassed by a much older male colleague. She raised the concerns with a female employee who allegedly told her to ignore it and get back to work.
But after months of harassment, her stepfather wrote to the franchise, the corporate headquarters and the police, resulting in the man being fired.
The young employee believes nothing would have been done if her family did not intervene in the situation.
Out of the 100 allegations the BBC investigated, the broadcaster said 31 related to sexual assault and 78 related to sexual assault. It also heard 18 allegations of racism and six of homophobia.
One worker in Oxfordshire, originally from India, claimed staff spoke in ‘gibberish’ to intimate her while another crew member called a colleague from Pakistan a terrorist.
At one branch in Northern Ireland an outbreak of gonorrhoea is said to have broken out where sexual relationships between team members happened regularly.
The complaints come just months after the chain signed a legal agreement with the equality watchdog amid concerns over how it handled sexual harassment complaints made by UK staff.
It made the legally binding agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in February, meaning the restaurant group needed to commit to a number of measures to better protect workers.
At the time, it was unknown the true scale of sexual harassment complaints at McDonalds, but the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) claimed in 2019 that more than 1,000 UK cases have been reported.
Alistair Macrow, chief executive of McDonald’s UK & Ireland, told the BBC there was ‘no placement for harassment, abuse or discrimination’ at the company.
He apologised for the claims and admitted there were ‘clearly instances’ where the company had ‘fallen short’.
The boss added that more than 2,000 managers had completed awareness training and that the company had strict rules to make sure its restaurants are safe and respectful workplaces.
MailOnline has contacted McDonalds’s.