Staff at Ted Baker have started a petition to end a culture of 'forced hugging' and alleged harassment at work.
The petition specifically calls out the company's founder Ray Kelvin, who has been accused of inappropriate behaviour by a number of staff members.
The petition, which was set up by over 60 Ted Baker staff members with the employee campaigning platform Organise, has garnered over 1,000 signatures online. It states that the company's habit of 'forced hugging' is "part of a culture that leaves harassment unchallenged." It also says employees' complaints about inappropriate behaviour have been ignored. It says: "harassment at Ted Baker is well documented but willfully ignored by those in charge.”
According to staff members who have been quoted on Organise's website, Kelvin has repeatedly harassed staff members, particularly young female employees. One staff member accused the CEO of "massaging my shoulders and kissing me on the neck," saying "I was a 21-year-old girl and it was my first ever ‘proper’ job."
Another reported: "lots of forced overly long hugs and kisses on the cheek, hand stroking, unsolicited massaging of employees shoulders. I have also heard first-hand accounts of people being asked to sit on his lap or having had their legs stroked under the table in meetings." According to Organise, these accusations are part of over 50 statements from Ted Baker employees.
The petition asks for an end to the "awkward hugging policy" and for an independent external body to be set up to report any further incidents of harassment.
Kelvin has not yet commented on the allegations.
Featured image: Ted Baker via Instagram