'I was racially abused at work in Kettering...my colleagues just watched'

The incident is being investigated by police

By Sam Wildman
Thursday, 25th June 2020, 9:46 am
Chibundom Ike.
Chibundom Ike.

A man who suffered some of the worst racist abuse imaginable before being attacked at work in Kettering has spoken of his anger after colleagues failed to step in.

Chibundom Ike, also known as Justin, was directing drive-thru traffic at the McDonald's in Northfield Avenue at about 8.30pm on June 5 when a girl aged 11 or 12 approached him.

She hurled racist abuse at him - so vile it cannot be printed in this newspaper - before going on to hit him in the abdomen and tell him she had coronavirus and spit towards him.

But Justin, 19, said that when he called for help from a supervisor they turned a blind eye. McDonald's has since apologised and every member of staff at the restaurant will take part in additional training.

Justin told the Northants Telegraph: "One of my colleagues was there and I said to them, "are you not going to say anything?"

"He just turned around and looked away."

Justin, who has worked at McDonald's for three years, told the girl that her actions were unacceptable when the verbal abuse turned physical.

He said that when he again asked for someone to step in they turned away for a conversation before a senior manager intervened and told him not to retaliate.

Justin said: "It was not right for that to be his only contribution. He had a chance to say something and he said nothing. It was wrong.

"Racism is a hot topic and everyone is hearing and seeing a lot about it on the news (because of the protests after George Floyd's death). People have to stand up to it and not just stay silent.

"I wanted that girl to know what she was doing and saying was wrong.

"The silence encouraged her to carry on. If you stay silent they are going to assume what they are doing is okay. Silence cannot be an option."

Justin moved to the UK from Nigeria in 2010 and said he has suffered from racist abuse ever since.

He was left upset by the response from senior management at McDonald's and now wants members of staff at the fast food chain's stores up and down the country to be trained on how to deal with such incidents.

He said: "As a young black man I am the person who is discriminated against. They just have to watch and they do not know what it feels like.

"I am not the first person to suffer racist abuse at work and I won't be the last.

"If all staff at McDonald's went through training to know how to deal with situations like this, it might help others feel supported."

A McDonald's spokesman said: “The appalling behaviour of this member of public is completely unacceptable, and we condemn it in the strongest terms possible.

"The safety and security of our people is our absolute priority, and we are disappointed that our staff member faced this type of discrimination whilst working.

"Following the incident, Justin should have been immediately offered support, and we would like to apologise that this did not happen.

"The following day Justin was contacted and offered support from a member of the restaurant management team, including our employee assistance programme, as well as access to third party counselling. However, we recognise this should have been done immediately.

“An investigation has subsequently taken place, and as a result the restaurant management team will be undertaking further training to ensure they are aware of the expectations in such a scenario, and are equipped to meet those expectations.

"The whole restaurant team will also be undertaking additional training to ensure we are creating a safe and respectful workplace for all of our people.”

Police are continuing to investigate and anyone with information should call them on 101.