Disgraced Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin, under fire for giving unwanted hugs to employees, will take a leave of absence from the company following fresh “serious allegations” regarding his conduct.

Kevin will take a voluntary leave from his chief executive officer’s post while Herbert Smith Freehills conducts its independent investigation, Ted Baker said in a statement.

More than 2,000 members of staff and customers of the UK retailer have launched a petition calling for an end to a culture of “forced hugs” and unwanted attention from the company’s founder.

“He'll want to brush this under the carpet,” the petition’s author wrote. “But staff won't be ignored if thousands of us stand with them.”

The company’s human resources department has failed to act on claims that Ray Kelvin would make inappropriate comments and personal demands of indecorous nature that cannot be made in a workplace.

Herbert Smith Freehills will undertake the investigation and consider all relevant matters which have been or are in the future reported at Ted Baker. The uproar has prompted companies to ponder upon the issue of unwelcome embraces at the workplace.

Some Rules about Hugging in the workplace

Some people are naturally more tactile than others and are happy to receive a daily hug from a coworker, others are less so inclined. A workplace culture that involves hugging can become uncomfortable for people who aren’t huggers.

While hugging should be reserved for close friends and family, it’s slowly infiltrating the workplace, leaving human resources departments with much ado about nothing. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking is unwelcome behavior whenever the person subjected to it considers it unwelcome. Anything more than a handshake may be perceived as unwelcome. Even if you’re a hugger, you never know how it will be received by your peers.

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