While the East Coast sweltered in the worst heat wave in seven years, public establishments struggled to maintain comfortable climate control to keep customers cool and consuming. Not so with McDonald’s in Washington Heights, New York, where one employee collapsed from the heat and was taken to the hospital.
Another employee stated that the franchise has had problems with the cooling system since she began working there nine years ago. She claims that the management treats the staff like animals and is not concerned about their health. She added that in record-high heat spells like this one, individuals have died due to heat exhaustion and that the management should be aware of the faulty air conditioning unit at the location. The crew member who collapsed had complained about the unacceptable working conditions numerous times and although the unit had been repaired, broke again within a week.
The Fire Department of New York City confirmed that an unconscious person had been transported to a hospital last Friday afternoon. The Deputy Director of New York Communities for Change tweeted a photo of an unconscious woman being taken from the establishment in a wheelchair. Additional negative press of the incident included bringing in temporary workers so the restaurant could continue operating in the intense heat. One employee expressed trepidation that the owners might retaliate against them due to the protests following the walk-out. She said that the owners should respect the rights of the employees to have a safe working environment, which includes getting the cooling system fixed.
The fast-food establishment branch and corporate headquarters for McDonald’s could not be reached for comments. However, one spokesperson stated that fast-food establishments frequently keep temperatures high inside the workplace to discourage young people from loitering about the premises.
If you or someone you know has been subjected to unfair labor practices or working conditions, you should consult an expert who can explain New York employment law and help to protect your right to a safe and comfortable working environment.
huffingtonpost.com, “McDonald’s Employees Walk Out In Protest Of No Air Conditioning After Crew Member Collapses” Caroline Fairchild, Jul. 19, 2013