Alistair Macrow, chief executive of McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said Tuesday (Nov 14) that the fast-food giant faces “one to two” sexual harassment allegations from workers every week. The issue was recently exposed by the BBC and Macrow has promised to tackle the alarming situation.
While speaking to a watchdog parliamentary committee, he said that his employees’ accounts of alleged harassment and racism were “truly horrific and hard to listen to”. Macrow was quizzed by MPs after a probe revealed a “toxic culture” at its restaurants.
The BBC investigation, which was done in July, revealed several allegations of sexual misconduct, racism and bullying by staff at McDonald’s outlets in Britain.
In the aftermath, the company said that it had dismissed 18 employees and taken 75 disciplinary measures. It noted that it has examined 157 reported cases, since the scandal emerged, and some 249 cases remain to be investigated.
After the BBC reported the charges, including employees’ claims of being “groped and harassed almost routinely,” law firm Leigh Day recently initiated a group legal action against McDonald’s.
The British broadcaster said McDonald’s UK established a specialised section to investigate the allegations, which arose from the stories of approximately 100 employees.
Macrow reiterated that he was “absolutely determined to root out any of these behaviours” as he appeared before lawmakers in parliament.
He pledged to identify individuals who are responsible for them and “make sure they are eradicated from our business”.
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Has the situation improved?
Union leaders claimed earlier in the hearing that the situation had not improved within McDonald’s since it launched its internal probes – a statement which contradicts what Macrow claimed.
The unions also claim that the firm has a history of using out-of-court settlements in response to such allegations, including non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union alleged four years ago that more than 1,000 female employees of the fast-food giant were victims of sexual harassment and abuse.
(With inputs from agencies)