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McDonald’s fires 18 people after investigation into harassment

It is important that businesses take a root and branch approach to eliminate such behaviour from occurring in the first place. Ensuring that harassment has no place in the business is better than having to pick up the pieces and potentially face employment tribunal claims.

The boss of McDonald’s has told MP’s that 18 people have been sacked following a BBC expose on widespread allegations of harassment at the fast-food chain.

Alistair Macrow said that of the 407 employee complaints received, they have so far investigated 157. Of those, 17 related to sexual harassment have resulted in disciplinary action. Another 9 related to bullying and one was in relation to racial harassment.

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, says “Of course, appropriate action needs to be taken against employees who are found to have committed acts of harassment in the workplace. A full investigation, disciplinary hearing, and potential dismissal is the likely course of action for employers who find themselves in such situations.

“But it is important that businesses take a root and branch approach to eliminate such behaviour from occurring in the first place. Ensuring that harassment has no place in the business is better than having to pick up the pieces and potentially face employment tribunal claims.

“Employers should take steps to stamp out harassment in the workplace.

“Under the Equality Act 2010, employers can be held legally responsible if an employee is sexually harassed or discriminated against at work by a colleague. The onus on employers is also going to be even greater in the coming months when the new law on harassment takes effect. Given that employment tribunals could increase awards by up to 25% where employers fail to prevent harassment in the workplace, once this new law is in force, this needs to be taken very seriously.

“As such, all businesses should pro-actively review their policies on sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination in the workplace and assess how aware employees are of them.

“While a robust policy is the first step in preventing misconduct, organisations should also ensure they have a clear, zero-tolerance attitude towards this behaviour. Similarly, workplace training for managers and workers on how to manage, avoid and report inappropriate actions can go a long way in discouraging all forms of sexual harassment in the workplace, as can providing effective support for affected employees.

“While it’s good to see that McDonald’s are taking these allegations seriously, the extent of the allegations uncovered by the BBC is extremely disturbing. It’s sad to see sexual harassment and bullying still prevalent in so many workplaces and is clear that there is a lot more work still to be done to ensure no workers are subject to inappropriate behaviours in the workplace.”

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