Ted Baker employees complain of founder’s ‘awkward hugging policy’
Dozens of current and former Ted Baker employees have accused the fashion brand’s founder of implementing a regime of “forced hugs” and harassment.
More than 60 people have reportedly come forward to launch an online petition detailing employees’ alleged experiences with Ray Kelvin, 62, calling for the company to end its “awkward hugging policy”.
The complainants claim Kelvin would give unwanted hugs, shoulder massages and kisses on the back of their ears at the firm’s London head office.
The petition, which is understood to be backed by almost 200 current or former employees, said the “inappropriate” forced hugging was “part of a culture that allows harassment to go unchallenged”.
It called for “a way of reporting harassment to an independent, external body” and claimed “HR has done nothing with the reports of harassment”.
“Directors who abuse their power should be held to account,” the employees added. “Harassment at Ted Baker is well documented but wilfully ignored by those in charge.
“It’s time to break the silence.”
The petition website purported to quote several unnamed current and former employees detailing their experiences.
“The CEO always wants a hug from every member of the staff,” said one. “It’s very uncomfortable and unnecessary, a simple handshake can be okay. He has kissed the back of the ears of some of the people that work there too.”
Another said: “I’ve seen the CEO ask young female members of staff to sit on his knee, cuddle him, or let him massage their ears.”
A third added: “Forced hugs and kisses. Invitations to star in porn movies with Ray [the CEO] in the middle of the office in front of everyone.”
Ted Baker said it would make sure an independent investigation was carried out.
In a statement, it said: “While the claims made are entirely at odds with the values of our business and those of our CEO, we take them very seriously.
“Ray greets many people he meets with a hug – be it a shareholder, investor, supplier, partner, customer or colleague.
“Hugs have become part of Ted Baker’s culture, but are absolutely not insisted upon.”