With over 14 years' experience, Osborne Clarke Partner Anna Elliott is an expert in advising on employment matters particularly discrimination and harassment issues.
Commenting on the recent sacking of McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook for a consensual relationship with an employee, Anna says:
"Unlike the slew of other high profile #MeToo dismissals, this case raises the debate about an employer’s ability to prohibit genuinely consensual relationships that may not constitute sexual harassment.
"Such policies are more common in the US and here, employers need to balance employees’ rights to have a private life against the broader interests of their business, for example, if the workplace relationship creates a conflict of interest or other prejudicial conduct. Whatever your view is on outright bans of consensual relationships at work, this case further signifies businesses’ willingness to take a very high profile stance on these matters and protect its values in the post-#MeToo era.
"Whilst McDonald’s may have sent a strong message that it will uphold its policies at the highest level, a few days ago a sexual harassment class action was filed in the US alleging that McDonald’s ‘creates and permits a toxic work culture from the very top’, indicating that there is still more work to be done."