- A former McDonald’s worker in the UK said she was “terrified” after a manager sexually harassed her.
- She said there was a toxic culture at the restaurant with managers flirting with junior staff.
- McDonald’s signed an agreement on Wednesday committing to protect UK workers against harassment.
A former McDonald’s employee described a culture of harassment at the fast food giant and said she was sexually harassed by a manager, an incident she said left her feeling frightened, the BBC reported on Wednesday, as the UK’s human rights watchdog confirmed an agreement with the company to protect workers after thousands of complaints.
Christine, a former employee at a McDonald’s branch in south London, said she worked there for seven years. She is only mentioned by her first name in the BBC article. In 2018, Christine said she was feeling unwell while working at the restaurant and went into the stockroom to ask for a manager’s permission to go home.
“He started making really inappropriate sexual suggestions that I wasn’t comfortable with,” she told the BBC. “He pulled his pants down in the stockroom and wanted me to do inappropriate things.”
Christine said she immediately complained to a business manager, but she was told to go back into the kitchen to work or call the police if she was so worried. She said the experience left her feeling “terrified.”
A spokesperson for McDonald’s told Insider that the company does not comment on individual cases but said: “The experiences described by this individual are completely unacceptable and have no place in our restaurants.”
“At McDonald’s, together with our franchisees who own and operate many of our restaurants, we work hard to create a positive work environment and culture. The safety of our teams and customers is our absolute priority,” a McDonald’s spokesperson said to Insider.
Christine told the BBC that the incident wasn’t isolated and said there was a toxic culture at the restaurant where managers behaved inappropriately with junior staff.
She said one manager walked around “touching everyone’s bum,” while another regularly said “inappropriate things” to her.
Christine’s account to the BBC comes alongside news from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that McDonald’s has signed a legal agreement in the UK, which promises to enforce measures like a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and anti-harassment training for staff.
A spokesperson for the EHRC said that the agreement was drafted in response to concerns about the handling of sexual harassment complaints made by staff at its UK restaurants.
In 2019, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) – which represents McDonald’s staff in the UK – received over 1,000 reports of sexual abuse and harassment at the chain.
McDonald’s workers in the US have also complained about a “pattern of sexual harassment” against women at the company and planned a one-day strike in protest in 2021.
“I saw a lot of things that were not okay,” Christine told the BBC.
She left in 2018 and has not worked for the fast-food giant since, describing it as “one of the worst experiences of my life.”