Fashion company employees claim they're 'forced to hug the boss' in online petition

Ted Baker employees have hit out at their boss over an alleged culture of “forced ‘hugging.’”

More than 200 people working at the company’s headquarters signed a petition saying they want to “put an end to the awkward ‘hugging’ policy,” and also accused the brand’s founder, Ray Kelvin, of harassment.

The current and former staff used campaigning platform Organise to complain about Kelvin’s alleged behavior, including kissing ears, unwanted hugs and shoulder massages.

“It’s inappropriate and is part of a culture that allows harassment to go unchallenged,” the petition reads.

Representatives for Ted Baker defended Kelvin, but confirmed it would launch “a thorough independent investigation” into the allegations. “It is critically important to us that every member of our staff feels valued and respected at work,” the company statement said. “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.”

The petition had garnered 1,890 signatures by Sunday night.

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