Over a year after the #MeToo movement began, yet another fashion industry figure has been reported for alleged inappropriate behavior on the job.
In a petition signed by Ted Baker employees and customers, thousands have accused its CEO Ray Kelvin of harassment. According to the petition on the British online platform Organise, the alleged behavior includes "inappropriate touching" such as "forced hugging" and more. At the time of publishing, the petition has acquired more than 2,500 signatures — more than 300 of which are from current or former employees of the British fashion brand. The label has also issued a formal statement to the UK Press Association news agency in response.
"The general feeling inside Ted Baker is that there's no official way to address the issue of harassment. That's why we (as staff) are running this campaign," wrote staff members on the petition addressed to board directors of Ted Baker. "I’ve seen the CEO ask young female members of staff to sit on his knee, cuddle him, or let him massage their ears. I went to HR with a complaint and was told ‘that’s just what Ray’s like’. The owner regularly makes sexual innuendos at staff, he stroke people’s necks, he took off his shirt on one occasion and talked about his sex life."
The petition notes that several staffers have left the company due to Kelvin's alleged verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, and that reporting the instances through the proper channels, like Human Resources, was "hopelessly ineffective" as reports went ignored. In a statement released to UK press, the company wrote that it is "critically important" that every member of its staff "feels valued and respected at work," adding that hugs are a "part of Ted Baker's culture" but are "not insisted upon." Following reports, Ted Baker shares plunged to 13%.
According to CNN, Ted Baker management revealed to the Press Association that they've contacted Organise to "understand the details and nature of the claims." It clarified that the harassment claims against Kelvin are "entirely at odds with the values of [Ted Baker] and those of our CEO, we take them very seriously and will ensure that a thorough independent investigation is carried out." A spokesperson for Ted Baker could not be reached for comment for this article.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call theRAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).