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McDonald’s has fired 18 British employees after setting up a special unit in the summer to deal with employee complaints about allegations of sexual assault, harassment and bullying, its British chief executive told MPs.
Alistair Macrow, McDonald’s UK and Ireland chief executive, told the Business and Trade Select Committee on Tuesday that the fast food chain had received 407 complaints about labor practices since the investigative unit was set up in July, of which 157 had been investigated 75 resulted in disciplinary action.
McDonald’s set up the unit after a BBC investigation in July uncovered ongoing problems with groping, harassment and bullying, even after the fast food chain signed a legally binding agreement with Britain’s Equalities Authority earlier this year promising explain the procedure.
Of the 75 complaints that resulted in disciplinary action, 17 involved cases of sexual harassment, nine involved reports of bullying and there was one case of racism, Macrow said. Macrow said 18 employees were fired following an internal investigation, but he did not know whether any of the complaints were forwarded to police.
MPs pressed Macrow on his responsibility for the level of staff protection at the chain, which employs more than 170,000 people across its 1,450 UK restaurants, and whether the company’s franchise model, which accounts for 89 per cent of its restaurants, is among the contributed to problems at work.
McDonald’s has also been hit by allegations of a toxic work culture in its home market of the United States. Earlier this year, a McDonald’s franchise operator in Nevada, Arizona and California agreed to pay nearly $2 million to settle sexual harassment claims.
Liam Byrne, a Labor MP and chairman of the committee, said that despite the protocols put in place by Macrow during his time as chief executive, there was “now a culture of not standardized good practice but standardized bad practice”. Andy McDonald, another Labor MP on the committee, asked: “If this happened under your watch and your duty of care and these are the standards you hold yourself to, then why are you still in a job?”
Macrow described the statements from McDonald’s employees – seven of which were given anonymously to the committee – as “truly terrible.” He said he was “absolutely committed to rooting out each of these behaviors, identifying the individuals responsible for them and ensuring they are banned from our company.”
He said McDonald’s has not terminated any of its 193 franchisees because of recent sexual harassment complaints. Responding to questions from MPs about how McDonald’s is maintaining standards in its franchised restaurants, Macrow said: “We are absolutely making sure we understand performance across all franchised restaurants and we will spend more time in restaurants that appear to be underperforming.” .”
Investigations into 249 staff complaints since July are still ongoing, including 27 cases of sexual harassment, Macrow added.