McDonald’s Employee Told to Put Mustard on Burn Suffered at Work

Saturday, March 21, 2015
McDonald's employee (AP Photo)

McDonald’s, which previously offered budgeting advice to its minimum wage employees, now offers a new health plan—free mustard to put on burns suffered at work.


That “medical advice” was included in the 28 complaints McDonald’s workers filed over the past two weeks with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and state regulators over working conditions at the fast food giant. The complaints are being made against 19 franchisees and nine corporate-owned restaurants as part of Service Employees International Union’s Fight for $15 an hour campaign.


Workers say the pressure to work quickly, along with understaffing and insufficient training, results in injuries from hot oil and slip-and-fall accidents. Restaurant owners often fail to issue proper equipment to complete such tasks as cleaning and filtering hot oil, and they lack first aid kits for on-the-job injuries.


Brittney Berry, who has been an employee at a McDonald’s in Chicago for four years, slipped on a wet floor and fell, severely burning her arm on a grill in the process. “The burn almost burned my entire forearm, and as I fell I twisted my wrist,” she told the media. “I worked through tears from the pain,”


“The managers told me to put mustard on it, but I ended up having to get rushed to the hospital in an ambulance,” Berry said, according to Reuters. She was put on morphine and found to have nerve damage. She lost three weeks of work, unpaid, and had to take a six-month medical leave.


The selection of condiment as a balm appears to be a matter of personal preference among McDonald’s managers. Martisse Campbell, who works at a Philadelphia McDonald’s, said that a

co-worker who was badly burned was told by a manager to “put mayo on it, and he’d be good,” according to ThinkProgress. Campbell says he’s often burned at work. “I don’t have any protective equipment when using the grills, and as a result boiling hot grease pops up from the grill and burns my hand,” he said.


Although most McDonald’s restaurants are independently owned, protesters say the parent corporation provides input on the conditions under which employees work, including a computer program that dictates staffing and work pace. The National Labor Relations Board has previously ruled that McDonald’s is a joint employer with the franchisees and at least partly responsible for working conditions at restaurants.


“As this campaign has spread to cities across the country, it’s become painfully clear that unsafe conditions go hand in hand with the industry’s low wages,” Kendall Fells, organizing director of Fight for $15, said in a release.


A spokesperson for McDonald’s said the company would review the allegations, but otherwise took a defensive posture: “It is important to note that these complaints are part of a larger strategy orchestrated by activists targeting our brand and designed to generate media coverage.”

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

McDonald’s Employee Received A Severe Burn, Manager Told Her To Put Mustard On It (by Bryce Covert, ThinkProgress)

McDonald’s Conditions Are Hazardous, Workers Claim (by Katie Little, CNBC)

McDonald’s Workers Claim Hazardous Conditions in 19 U.S. Cities (by Lisa Baertlein, Reuters)

Labor Board Rules McDonald’s May Be Joint Employer of Its Franchise Operations and Liable for Labor Violations (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

With a Straight Face, McDonald’s Advises Employees how to Make the most of Their Meager Pay (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

No Overtime Pay for McDonald’s Workers on Christmas Day (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Leave a comment