Ted Baker boss accused of "forced hugging" and leading culture of harassment

Ted Baker staff accuse boss of 'awkward' hugs and harassment

Ted Baker staff accuse boss of 'awkward' hugs and harassment

The petition, published on the workplace campaign platform Organise, urged the company's board of directors to end this "awkward hugging culture".

Kelvin and the rest of the company's leadership had always prided themselves on Ted Baker being a great employer, Ted Baker said.

However Ted Baker told the Sunday Times that the allegations were at "odds with the values of the business and CEO". "Harassment at Ted Baker is well documented but wilfully ignored by those in charge".

Ted Baker has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment, but it issued a statement to the UK's Press Association news agency. According to the petition, the company's CEO, Ray Kelvin, regularly engages in sexual harassment with varying degrees of intensity. "Hugs have become part of Ted Baker's culture, but are absolutely not insisted upon".

Anonymous testimonies gathered by the site include several claims that Mr Kelvin massaged, kissed or inappropriately touched members of staff.

In an interview with Retail Week, Kelvin explained that he hugs people because his psoriatic arthritis makes it painful to shake hands, and took offence when it was suggested that people would be uncomfortable doing so.

"Having very recently been made aware of the petition, we are now in dialogue with [staff] to understand the details and nature of the claims", it added.

Kelvin's net worth is now estimated at $650 million, according to British newspaper The Sunday Times' annual Rich List.

The company said the claims are being taken "very seriously" and a "thorough independent investigation" will be carried out.

However, the company said "clear and robust" HR policies in dealing with the issues were already in place. "We will then carefully consider the content and recommendations of that report". "They don't act on the reports".

Ted Baker, named after a fictitious alter ego of Mr Kelvin, opened its the first store in Glasgow in 1988 and now has 544 outlets worldwide selling fashion and accessories.

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