Employment news

McDonalds taking action on sexual harassment claims but faces legal action for age discrimination

McDonald’s has dismissed 18 people after receiving hundreds of allegations relating to sexual harassment in its UK restaurants and franchises.

In February 2023 the fast-food chain signed a legal agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission which committed it to protecting workers against sexual harassment. This followed a BBC investigation that workers as young as 17 were being groped and harassed, with staff complaining of a toxic working culture where claims of sexual assault, racism and bullying were not taken seriously.

In July Macdonald’s set up an independent unit to investigate the claims. Speaking to MPs on the business and trade select committee in November, Alistair Macrow, chief executive of McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland, said the company had received 407 complaints from workers since July. 157 complaints that have been investigated so far that related to sexual harassment have resulted in disciplinary action. Some complaints investigated stretch back to the 1980s. Macrow told MPs that the “truly horrific” claims from workers had been “very difficult to hear”, and re-committed the company to dealing with every case.

In a separate development law firm Leigh Day has launched a legal claim of age discrimination on behalf of McDonald’s workers on the basis that the youngest employees are at the biggest disadvantage at McDonald’s. Leigh Day’s employment team said: “Despite the many allegations that the BBC investigation uncovered, it appears that only a few cases have previously been brought against McDonald’s in the employment tribunal, and many of those did not reach a full hearing, which means claims were withdrawn and may have been settled….by bringing a legal claim, McDonald’s will be forced to make changes to their working practices and put in measures to protect their young staff.”