It emerged during a New Zealand protest against conditions for workers at fast food chain McDonald’s that gay staff members at one store faced discrimination and harassment, with one man claiming several coworkers had left their jobs over the problem.

McDonald’s workers from throughout the New Zealand capital, Auckland, gathered in front of the restaurant on Queens Street yesterday to demonstrate against low wages and unfair hours, among other concerns.

Among them was Sean Bailey, who told TVNZ he and other employees at Quay Street had faced the prospect of being disciplined for being “too gay”, and had faced harassment.

Mr Bailey reported: “We’ve had a few gay people leave. Not too sure why, maybe because they’re being stressed so bad, being discriminated, and don’t know what to do.”

He said he had faced harassment from two different managers.

“One of my managers said, ‘if you act gay on my shift, I will discipline you’,” said Mr Bailey. “He also said, ‘if you turn anyone else in the store gay, I will punish you and make you lose your job’.

“I had to call in sick just because I couldn’t work with him, which meant I lost work hours and money,” he added.

The manager was reported and forced to apologise, and was moved to another store in Auckland, but Mr Bailey pointed out, “there’s nothing to stop him from doing the same thing somewhere else.”

A spokesperson for McDonald’s said: “[McDonald's] takes complaints of this nature very seriously. In this specific case the restaurant followed internal processes but due to privacy restrictions we cannot discuss the outcome.”

McDonald’s restaurants in New Zealand caused controversy in 2011 by blocking LGBT websites that did not contain sexually explicit content. The ban was eventually lifted after the company received criticism.