McDonald’s: Fast food giant hit by allegations of sexual assault, racism and bullying as workers speak out

McDonald’s workers have accused the fast food giant for creating a toxic work culture of harrassment, sexual assault, racism and bullying.

Fast food chain McDonald’s has been accused of creating a toxic work culture of harassment, sexual assault, racism and bullying as more than 100 members of staff spoke out against the company. A number of employees, with some as young as 17, told the BBC they are being groped and harassed frequently.

The accusations have led the UK equality watchdog to launch a new hotline via email for staff. The watchdog added it was ‘concerned’ by the findings. A teenage employee from Cheshire alleged that a colleague who was 20 years her senior called her a racial slur, asked to show her his genitalia and said he wanted to make a ‘black and white’ baby with her.

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In another case, it was reported that a manager at McDonald’s in Hampshire suggested a 16-year-old male worker perform sexual acts in exchange for vapes. Meanwhile, a 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.

22-year-old Emily, who used to work at a McDonald’s branch in Brighton, said: “It’s the expectation that if you work at McDonald’s, you will be harassed.”

She left the job role last year after a male colleague in his 60s stroked her hair in a sexual manner on a regular basis, making her feel uncomfortable.

McDonald’s workers have hit out at the company for allegedly causing a toxic work cultureMcDonald’s workers have hit out at the company for allegedly causing a toxic work culture
McDonald’s workers have hit out at the company for allegedly causing a toxic work culture | AFP via Getty Images

Lucy, also 22, who previously worked in Norwich, said: “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.”

The fast food giant employs more than 170,000 people in the UK and it has one of the country’s youngest workforces. Across the company, 75% of employees are between 16 and 25 years old.

Those who spoke out added senior managers failed to act when told about the behaviour. One worker told the BBC: “I think that they don’t really think about their staff at all.”

Shelby, a 16-year-old worker who was employed at a branch in Berkshire, 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.”

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The 16-year-old told BBC Breakfast this morning that the alleged behaviour had an affect 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.”

McDonald’s told the BBC it was “deeply sorry” to hear about what Shelby went through. The fast food giant added that it was investigating why any issues that she raised were not formally escalated at the time.

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