Minnesota residents may be aware that the labor practices of many fast food corporations have been under fire recently. The Service Employees International Union has been campaigning for workers' base pay to be increased to $15 per hour, and restaurant operators have also been accused of not doing enough to ensure that their employees have a safe working environment. The matter took another turn recently when 28 complaints were filed with OSHA against McDonald's locations in 19 cities over a two-week period.
The complaints allege that workplace safety is frequently compromised by poor training, lax oversight and the pressure put on workers to perform tasks quickly. Workers also claim that safety equipment such as protective clothing is often not provided and injuries are frequently left untreated. One worker described an incident where a colleague was told to apply mayonnaise to a grease burn.
The company vowed to look into the allegations and said that it was committed to providing a safe work environment. The vast majority of McDonald's restaurants are owned by independent operators, and the company says that the ultimate responsibility for safety issues lies with its franchisees. McDonald's also said that the allegations were a coordinated attempt by activists to generate media attention. However, workers claim that McDonald's tightly controls its franchisees, and they say that conditions could be improved if the company truly cared about worker safety.
Employers have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment, but accidents can and do happen. An employee injured in a workplace accident may seek financial assistance by filing a workers' compensation claim. While blame for an accident is not considered when assessing such a claim, the process may still become contentious. An attorney with experience in this area may advocate on behalf of an injured worker in an appeal of a denied claim.
Source: Christian Science Monitor, "McDonald's workers complain of frequent burns, dangerous conditions (+video)", Schuyler Velasco, March 16, 2015