Misconduct | Ted Baker staff fight back against 'forced hugging'

Ted Baker staff fight back against 'forced hugging'

Staff at top fashion brand Ted Baker are demanding the end of a ‘forced hugging’ culture at their workplace - BBC reports.

A petition, launched by an employee, accuses the firm’s Founder and Boss Ray Kelvin of inappropriate comments and behaviour. As well as unwelcome hugs, he is accused of using sexual innuendo and asking young female members of staff to sit on his knee, cuddle him, or let him massage their ears.

"It is part of a culture that leaves harassment unchallenged," the employees claim. "Please set up a way of reporting harassment to an independent, external body - HR has done nothing with the reports of harassment to date."

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Ted Baker responded by stating that the matters raised in the petition were "at odds with the values of our business and those of our CEO".

It said it would "ensure a thorough independent investigation is carried out" into the allegations.

Is this part of #metoo?

Since October last year, there has been a coherent kickback against unwanted or improper physical contact in the workplace.

The culture of ‘covering things up’, evident in the Harvey Weinstein scandal, is slowly starting to be challenged as individuals come together to use their collective voice against those who tried to stifle what was going on.

David Southall, an employment law Consultant for the ELAS Group, says that it's important HR are along with this, not just having policies but fostering an environment where employees feel safe enough to come forward with complains.

He explains: "All employers should have an Equal Opportunities Policy,” and “should have clear and comprehensive Harassment and Grievance Policies. However it is not sufficient just to have policies in place. Thought should be given to how comfortable employees would be raising issues which are potentially career ending, especially if they are made against a person in a powerful position."

What can I do if I’m being harassed in the workplace?

Monster.co.uk shared their plan of action with HR Grapevine. Sharing these tips with your employees could help to prevent an issue escalating to the scale that Ted Baker are now experiencing.

“Firstly, it is important to remember that harassment can come in many forms, and one of the most difficult steps is often admitting it is happening to you.

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“If you feel safe, you should tell the person harassing you that you’re uncomfortable and ask them to stop. Tell your HR what’s going on too. However, if these individuals are part of the problem you’ll need to seek outside help.

"Citizens Advice offers online resources plus phone and face-to-face appointments to help you address harassment and The Equality Advisory and Support Services can point you towards groups that support victims of harassment.

“Whatever you do, put everything in writing. Collect evidence- keep a diary recording all the times this has occurred."

"Your employer has a legal, ethical, and employee relations obligation to investigate the charges. In fact, if an employer hears rumours that harassment is occurring, the employer must investigate the potential harassment.

“If the harassment is sexual in nature and becomes physical without your consent you should report to the police as well as internal avenues.”

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