Ted Baker CEO Steps Down amid Allegations of Harassment

Author: Brian Hammond and Barry Walsh

March 13, 2019

In a recent client briefing we examined some of the major employment law issues of 2018.

One of the areas covered was the impact of #MeToo on HR practice. We discussed how some employers are responding robustly to allegations of workplace harassment and explained how serious such allegations can be for accused employees including senior executives.

In that regard it is noted that Ted Baker founder and CEO, Ray Kelvin, recently stepped down following allegations of harassment.

Mr Kelvin initially took a voluntary leave of absence after the Ted Baker board was made aware of “serious allegations.”

Some of the issues raised included the existence of a “hugging” culture at the company such as a “hug zone” area outside Mr Kelvin’s office where employees would receive an embrace. The area was later disbanded after over 300 petitioners made up of current and former staff campaigned for an end to “forced hugs”. Other allegations involved massaging of employees, kissing of ears and asking some to sit on his lap.

He had reportedly previously received a formal warning following an incident where he shoved a senior colleague against a wall after learning he had not been invited to his wedding.

It is important to note that Mr Kelvin has denied the allegations but the Company stated that he agreed to resign as the CEO and director in the “best interests of the company”.

Campaigners in the UK heralded the development stating that the resignation “shows the power of staff teaming up to create positive change at work”.

Not all employers react like Ted Baker.

In our recent client briefing we updated attendees on significant awards in separate cases of €45,000 and €46,000 by the WRC in 2018 in situations where employee complaints of harassment were not properly addressed.

This topic was one of a number of updates recently covered in our seminar entitled “Employment Law Review of 2018 and What’s in Store for 2019”, click here to read more.

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