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McDonald's row: Victims from India, Pakistan speak out over 'worst' sexual abuse cases

Over 100 employees, largely female, complained of a "toxic work culture" at the restaurants and claimed that the managers were responsible for the maximum misconduct.

Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 London Updated on: July 18, 2023 16:48 IST
McDonald’s
Image Source : REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE/AP McDonald’s

In a shocking revelation, a UK media report claimed that McDonald's-- an American multinational fast food chain-- has become a "hotspot" of sexual abuse, harassment racism and bullying for female workers, especially those belonging to the age group of 17-25 years.

According to an investigation conducted by BBC, over 100 employees, largely female, complained of a "toxic work culture" at the restaurants and claimed that the managers were responsible for the maximum misconduct.  

"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," Lucy, who's 22 and worked in Norwich told BBC. 

According to the UK media, it began an investigation after the fast food chain signed a legally binding agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in which it pledged to protect its staff from sexual harassment in February this year.

Indian and Pakistan nations also faced sexual harassment 

The investigation also revealed shocking details wherein an Indian working in Oxfordshire claimed crew members spoke in "gibberish" to imitate her. In fact, Pakistani women also faced a similar situation where they were being tagged "a terrorist".

During the probe, the media outlet spoke to hundreds of employees and found over 100 female workers claimed they had experienced the "worst" sexual harassment at the restaurants. Of the more than 100 allegations from employees we spoke to, 31 related to sexual assault, and 78 related to sexual harassment.

The employees said that managers force their junior female employees to indulge in sexual activities with them, which they claimed was against the company's policy.

"They'd grope stomach, waists, bums": Victim reveals 

"They'd grope stomach, waists, bums. 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," 16-year-old Shelby told BBC. This prompted her to resign. According to her, she complained about the same with her senior management but "nothing was done". In fact, in her resignation mail, she exposed the "toxic" work environment.

McDonald's reacts to allegations 

It is worth mentioning McDonald's is one of the UK's largest private-sector employers, having more than 170,000 people working in 1,450 restaurants. Most of the employees are aged between 16 and 25. Also, it should be noted here that McDonald's uses a franchise system, which means individual operators are licensed to run the outlets and employ the staff.

Reacting to the allegations, the company said it had "fallen short" and "deeply apologised". Also, the company said that it was investigating why any issues that she raised were not formally escalated at the time.

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