- 21 Feb 2023
- 2 min read
McDonald’s signs legal agreement with Equality and Human Rights Commission
Following a large number of reported sexual harassment complaints by McDonald’s employees, the fast food company has signed a legal agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in which it commits to taking measures to protect its UK staff.
The EHRC is a national body which aims to safeguard and enforce equality laws in the UK. In its agreement with the EHRC, McDonald’s has pledged to communicating a “zero tolerance” approach to sexual harassment, to provide anti-harassment training to staff, and to improve policies to better respond to complaints.
Why is this important?
The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) has previously claimed that more than 1,000 complaints had been lodged by McDonald’s UK staff. McDonald’s has indicated that its agreement with EHRC is aimed at strengthening the protections offered to its staff.
The agreement could also be helpful in protecting the company against potential future claims. In most cases, an employer will be liable for discriminatory acts by its employees where they are done in the course of employment. But employers can have a defence to such claims if they can show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination occurring.
What should you do?
For most employers, coming to an agreement with the EHRC shouldn’t be necessary to address and prevent instances of workplace harassment. However, every employer should be doing what it reasonably can to prevent its employees being discriminated against.
Measures which employers should take to help them in eradicating harassment and improving their chances of invoking the ‘reasonable steps defence’ include:
- ensuring that a comprehensive equal opportunities policy is implemented and communicated to staff
- ensuring its employees and managers are given detailed and rigorous training, which is refreshed and updated regularly
- taking appropriate action against employees who have committed acts of discrimination
We can help your organisation implement each of these measures. For example, we regularly work with employers to deliver tailored training sessions to their staff on equality, diversity and inclusion. Please get in touch if you would like guidance on protecting your staff and minimising the risk of a claim.
If you would like to speak to our team, please call us on 0800 2800 421 or contact us here.