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February 19, 2009 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Be a hero on your own time (VIDEO) When McDonald's employee Nigel Haskett interceded to stop a man who was beating a woman in the restaurant, the assailant went outside, retrieved a gun from his car and shot Haskett – “multiple times,” as the employee stood at the door to keep the assailant from re-entering the restaurant. $300,000 in medical bills later, McDonald's insurance says no dice: "we have denied this claim in its entirety as it is our opinion that Mr. Haskett's injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment."
posted by thisisdrew (104 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
correction, the insurance is resisting payment of workers' comp benefits. Not the medical bills, apparently.
posted by thisisdrew at 10:10 AM on February 19, 2009


But can it be said that this is the fault of Mickey D's, or is it just the insurance carrier finding a way to back out of coverage? While I could be wrong--I've only read a newspaper article--I think it's the latter.

In short, I hope I'm never judged by the way my insurance company treats claimants against my policy.
posted by resurrexit at 10:10 AM on February 19, 2009


I'm guessing that McD's is big enough that it can give a little friendly advice to the insurance company on how to handle a few....delicate claims.
posted by DU at 10:13 AM on February 19, 2009 [16 favorites]


Workman's comp is intended to be for injuries sustained in the course of your work. He's not a policeman.

He's a hero, and he certainly deserves fair treatment, but it's not clear that McDonald's is even directly involved here- this looks like a decision made by the insurance company- Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing.

Further, the article sure reads as slanted, wrapping up with completely off-topic discussion of McDonald's opposition to card-check legislation.

Flagged as mighty weak barbecue sauce here.
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:14 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The insurance industry must be brought to heel if this country is to survive as a livable place for its citizens. They just have too much power. And I'm not even talking about health insurance. Don't even get me started on that.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:15 AM on February 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


ba-da-bop-bop-ba!
posted by Mister_A at 10:16 AM on February 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


If a corporation was a person it would be a psychopath. This country needs a healthcare system that is based on helping patients, not on the benevolence of psychopaths.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:16 AM on February 19, 2009 [25 favorites]


Now, if he'd hurt himself tossing that guy out of the store, I could see McDonalds's claims being correct, if not necessarily "right."

However, the shooting happened as a separate, though related, incident in which the man went out to his car, retrieved his gun, and shot Haskett. Haskett seems to have been "within the course and scope of his employment" insofar as he was preventing an abusive customer from returning into the restaurant.

No matter how it happened, Nigel Haskett did the right thing and shouldn't have to fight for this, but since the guy wasn't even carrying his gun at the time, it doesn't seem like Haskett even failed to follow the instructions of his employee training. McDonalds just doesn't have a leg to stand on.
posted by explosion at 10:17 AM on February 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


It seems like I've heard a at least a couple of stories similar to this. In fact, a lady I work with was attacked while filling up her car at a BP last year. (She didn't know the attacker.) The clerk inside saw what was happening, and ran out to fight the guy off.

BP fired him for leaving his station.
posted by HopperFan at 10:19 AM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


The police blotter version:
Officers responded to McDonalds on a shooting just occurred call and located Nigel Haskett who was suffering from a gunshot wound to his upper torso. Haskett was transported to Baptist Hospital by MEMS and is listed in critical condition. Detectives also responded and interviewed several witnesses who advised that Perry Kennon and Jessica Canady, the mother of his 2 children, were involved in a physical altercation inside McDonalds. Haskett, who is an employee, came to Canady’s aid and pulled Kennon off of her. Haskett and Kennon then began to fight. They fought their way out of McDonalds onto the parking lot, at which time Kennon pulled out a gun and shot Haskett in the upper torso, then fled the area in a vehicle before officers arrived. Warrants for Battery 1st Degree were obtained for Kennon’s arrest.
posted by smackfu at 10:21 AM on February 19, 2009


Workman's comp is intended to be for injuries sustained in the course of your work. He's not a policeman.

OTOH, I have yet to work anywhere (that didn't have its own security force) where it wasn't an employee's responsibility to handle unruly or out-of-control customers. This is different from a robbery, which is handled differently. If you have someone acting-up, though, that person must be taken from the premises, away from the other guests.

One has to wonder what kind of hurt would've come down from headquarters had the employees just sat there and allowed the guy to beat the woman to a pulp.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:26 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not lovin' it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:31 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


McScrewed?
posted by mudpuppie at 10:32 AM on February 19, 2009


Four Trillion dollars in assets, and the insurance industry gets tight over a hero. Things like this, more than anything else right now; are a good time for Obamaman to step up and face slap McDonalds for being so forsakenly pithy.

Oddly enough, in today's culture; the stock market would bump up, McDs sales would go up, and it would work great for everybody. Or Burger King could make a shameful commercial that has Ronald McD running away in terror as the King throttles a bad guy. Smiles everywhere.
posted by buzzman at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not saying he shouldn't have done something to help that woman, but Haskett's reaction seemed more on the level of trying to kick that dude's ass than just trying to get him to leave the store. It sounds like they continued fighting outside the restaurant as well, not like he just stood outside the door to keep Kennon from returning.

I realize this isn't the main topic of the post, but it just struck me as being pretty overzealous.
posted by orme at 10:42 AM on February 19, 2009


...is it just the insurance carrier finding a way to back out of coverage?

I think it might be so.

From the second FPP link: "The owner-operator of the restaurant where the incident occurred can't talk about it because the case is pending in court..."

It appears that the restaurant involved is a McDonald's franchise, not a company-owned opeartion. The insurer involved is likely one which insures the franchise and not McDonald's Corporation overall.

While this is indeed a local issue it would behoove McDonald's Corporation to consider applying pressure on the franchisee and it's insurance company to provide worker comp. benefits to Haskett. It's the right thing to do.

Also, many people don't know the distinction between the entities involved. McDonald's comes out looking bad and heartless, if benefits are denied.
posted by ericb at 10:43 AM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Grimace.
posted by Poolio at 10:44 AM on February 19, 2009 [23 favorites]


There is video surveillance coverage of the incident on youtube and linked to the story. It doesn't appear that the hero tried to intervene more than rushing the guy and shoving him out the door. also, it hardly appears that the assailant was 'beating up' the girl. I sympathize with the gunshot victim, but i agree that it is unlikely that mickey d's doesn't cover this sort of thing in its orientation. Call 911 and let the pros get shot at. I think there is more to this than big-bad-corporation-denies-hero-benefits. That being said you'd think they'd avoid the negative publicity this is likely to receive and pony up.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:45 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


“McDonald's position now is that during thirty-minute orientation Mr. Haskett and the other individuals going through the orientation were supposedly told that in the event of a robbery or anything like a robbery . . . not to be a hero and simply call 911. Mr. Haskett denies that anything like that was even mentioned during orientation or at any time during his employment with McDonald's.”

Now, that position is true. Retail stores usually do instruct their employees not to chase shoplifters out of the store or be a hero during a robbery attempt. I once had to clean blood off the floor of a produce department when the clerk next door chased a shoplifter outside, got stabbed by said shoplifter, and then ran in to our supermarket for help. Not a single aspect of that day's adventure was fun for anyone except for the shoplifter, who as far as I could tell was never caught.

But on the other hand, dude.
posted by Spatch at 10:45 AM on February 19, 2009


It sounds like they continued fighting outside the restaurant as well, not like he just stood outside the door to keep Kennon from returning.

When one person wants to fight and the person they want to fight is doing anything that isn't running away, that second person is fighting whether they want to or not.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:46 AM on February 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Where's Noel Edmonds when you need him?
posted by minifigs at 10:49 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, corporations bad? Is that the takeaway message?
posted by electroboy at 10:54 AM on February 19, 2009


Does it mention in the video (which I can't watch at work) why he's wearing a military uniform in the picture in the article? Is he in the reserves or something? Would he be entitled to any health benefits from the military?

Also, why was Kennon's warrant for battery and not attempted murder?
posted by desjardins at 10:57 AM on February 19, 2009


A similar situation recently happened at a California department store, and there was a huge outcry that led to the store paying for what the insurance company would not. The other case might have been more clear-cut (the woman was killed by a stranger in an incident they labeled 'race related', but it would not have happened had she not been at work, and it brought up questions--for me, at least--on whether the employer is responsible for protecting employees from crazy people coming in off the street).

I think McDonald's stands to suffer here more by the bad publicity in that they are basically announcing that if you are violently attacked on their premises, they'll pretty much just call the police. I know there are reasons for their policy having to do with liability and such, but that doesn't mean they can't come back and still cover the benefits, not least to reward behavior that goes beyond typical customer service.. And I still think there is the issue of whether employees (and in this case customers as well) are adequately protected on their premises. Their risk assessment might tell them that it is not cost efficient to provide security, but it should have (and probably did) take into account their liability as a result of not doing so.
posted by troybob at 10:58 AM on February 19, 2009


All I know, is that as a society we should be taking care of hero's like him. Shocking that we have no problem forking over millions to athletes, actors and faceless corporations and yet this kid has to languish with over $300,000 in medical bills. Worlds gone cold.
posted by scarello at 11:04 AM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm just a sissypants, but if I were CEO of McDonald's, I'd be at this guys bedside, checkbook in-hand, simply because it'd be the right thing to do. It kinda stuns me that anyone at the corporation would have to spend even 5 minutes thinking of what the right thing to do here is.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:09 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's true that being shot at is not part of a job at McDonald's, but it certainly seems like covering worker's comp is the decent thing to do even if they're not legally obligated.

I don't get the people asking if the employee was the one who kept the fight going, though, or if the woman and her husband were really "fighting." The dude went and got a gun and shot someone...clearly, he thought he was in a pretty serious fight.
posted by emjaybee at 11:12 AM on February 19, 2009


All I know, is that as a society we should be taking care of hero's like him.

You could easily set up a charity or internet based donation site and start taking donations to go to him. That's also 'society' taking care of a hero. Kinda like when this dude in NYC jumped over a guy who had fallen on the subway tracks and saved his life...the guy lost his job or something and the NY Daily News took up a collection and gave the guy like 100 grand. Society doesn't have to be government. Be a citizen and do it. Why is it always 'SOCIETY SHOULD DO IT BUT NOW ME!!!'??
posted by spicynuts at 11:17 AM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also: I'm not quite sure on the technicals, but workers' compensation is supposed to be an insurance plan to cover certain kinds of employer liability, so the employer cannot be sued directly. If the insurance company says this is not covered under the insurance plan, doesn't that open the case up for arguing the the employer is liable, such that the employer can sue directly?
posted by troybob at 11:19 AM on February 19, 2009


Society doesn't have to be government. Be a citizen and do it. Why is it always 'SOCIETY SHOULD DO IT BUT NOW ME!!!'??

At what point did the post you reference indicate otherwise?
posted by troybob at 11:23 AM on February 19, 2009


I remember reading in Fast Food Nation that fast food restaurants are surprisingly violent places to work at, with armed robbery being a relatively common occurrence.
posted by wastelands at 11:27 AM on February 19, 2009


I guess I'm just a sissypants, but if I were CEO of McDonald's, I'd be at this guys bedside, checkbook in-hand, simply because it'd be the right thing to do.

And if not because of that, because the bad publicity stemming from denying this employee medical benefits is likely to cost McD's more than $300K.
posted by orange swan at 11:27 AM on February 19, 2009


Or Burger King could make a shameful commercial that has Ronald McD running away in terror as the King throttles a bad guy.

I would actually buy and eat a Whopper if Burger King made a series of commercials making fun of McDonald's for this. It would be completely pointless, unfair, and awesome.
posted by straight at 11:28 AM on February 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


Maybe the Ronald McDonald House could lend a hand?

(only half snarking here)
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:29 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love how the woman stayed on the phone the whole time.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:30 AM on February 19, 2009


I remember reading in Fast Food Nation that fast food restaurants are surprisingly violent places to work at, with armed robbery being a relatively common occurrence.

Yes, if I recall correctly, that book claims more fast food workers are shot (or is it killed?) on the job than cops. Thieves have figured out that convenience stores aren't worth robbing anymore because none of them keep much more than a minimal float in the till. Fast food places, on the other hand, take in a lot of money. They sell meals to families rather than odd packs of bubblegum or bags of chips. When I worked at a KFC for a few years in the early nineties I twice missed being present at the store during a robbery by less than half an hour.
posted by orange swan at 11:31 AM on February 19, 2009


My heart goes out to the guy, and I can see how I might have done the same thing as a younger man. Now my general behavior is:

1. Call the police. They're insured for these risks and may already be aware of an existing problem
2. After that, see if you can quietly defuse the situation. Maybe mention the police bit.
3. Then make sure you and all others are in a safe place

I learned this dealing with a drug-crazed acquaintance trying to strangle his girlfriend while I was in the next room. Also, take the knife drawer with you when you leave for the safe place.
posted by mdoar at 11:34 AM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


In which McDonalds gives you the shaft.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:35 AM on February 19, 2009


What people don't understand here is that McDonalds doesn't give a shit about bad publicity. They're the kings of bad publicity. Blah blah McDonalds is an evil corporation. Of course they're an evil corporation. We've known they're a terrible corporation for years, and yet we keep buying. Maybe it's part of their charm or something.
posted by seagull.apollo at 11:37 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lessons Learned:

1) Don't eat at McDonalds. If you are attacked, all the employees can do is call 911 while you get knocked around.

2) Don't work at McDonalds. The company does not have your back and would prefer that you call 911 and then just watch somebody being assaulted.

3) Don't assume that your insurance is going to cover you if you get injured. Have some back-up savings at hand in case you need to take off work after being shot in the stomach - and to pay for the medical bills involved.

4) On the positive side, your heroics will be broadcast to a larger audience if somebody acts like a dick to you afterwards.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:39 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I just watched the video of the incident and from the context there it looks like the employee just rushed out at the guy. Not much of "quietly defuse the situation" there.
posted by mdoar at 11:39 AM on February 19, 2009


Why didn't he unscrew the handle from the mop and use it to beat the guy up and take the gun?
posted by inigo2 at 11:41 AM on February 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Nonsense, of course McD's cares about bad publicity. It was hilarious watching them try to deal with the bad publicity stemming from Morgan Spurlock's "Supersize Me" and reach for ways to deny that their food is unhealthy without actually saying it wasn't.

And about 15 years ago the dean of my program at the community college I was then attending made an appearance somewhere and gave a speech about globalization that included the word "McJobs", which in the context of his speech meant unskilled, poorly paid work that provided little or no chance for advancement. This speech was covered in a small newspaper with a circulation of about 40,000. The dean then got a letter from the P.R. department of McDs asking him if he knew that McJobs was their program to provide jobs and training for the mentally challenged and claiming that his use of McJobs was both incorrect and demeaning to these mentally challenged workers.
posted by orange swan at 11:47 AM on February 19, 2009


Maybe next time he'll choose a job in a country with socialized healthcare?

*ducks*
posted by blue_beetle at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2009


You could easily set up a charity or internet based donation site and start taking donations to go to him.

It's been done:
"[District Judge Lee] Munson passed the case on to Pulaski Circuit Court, and he and his court reporter each contributed $100 to a fund for Haskett that was set up by Twin City Bank."
posted by ericb at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would actually buy and eat a Whopper if Burger King made a series of commercials making fun of McDonald's for this. It would be completely pointless, unfair, and awesome.

In fact, I want them to hire some political campaign ad hacks to make an attack ad:

A greyed-out photo of Ronald McDonald.
A somber voice intones: "Are your children SAFE at McDonalds?"
Dark, shadowy footage of the door into a restaurant.
Somber voice: "Did you know Ronald McDonald's OFFICIAL POLICY is to stand there and WATCH if one of your CHILDREN is being BEATEN to DEATH by just ANYONE who walks in?"
Grainy footage of black men eating hamburgers. Menacingly.
Somber woman's voice: "McDonalds? It's not worth the risk to my children."

Burger King: "My name is Burger King, and I approve this message."
posted by straight at 11:51 AM on February 19, 2009 [20 favorites]


If the insurance company says this is not covered under the insurance plan, doesn't that open the case up for arguing the the employer is liable, such that the employer can sue directly?

Exactly.
posted by caddis at 11:52 AM on February 19, 2009


And if not because of that, because the bad publicity stemming from denying this employee medical benefits is likely to cost McD's more than $300K.M

That's exactly it. It's the right thing to do from any angle. Even the self-serving angles.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:54 AM on February 19, 2009



At what point did the post you reference indicate otherwise?


When he blamed 'society' for not doing anything. Society is us. Quit whining on a message board and do something as a member of society. Then you have the right to whine.
posted by spicynuts at 11:55 AM on February 19, 2009


Ronald McDonald: Ah, the employee who risked his life by singlehandedly taking...
Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing: [whispering in his ear] Multiple
Ronald McDonald: *Multiple* gunshot wounds and rescuing...
Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing : A battered woman
Ronald McDonald : A woman being battered in one of our resturants.
Heroic Grillman: Yes, sir.
Ronald McDonald : The employee about whom we've heard so much.
Heroic Grillman: I suppose so, sir.
Ronald McDonald : Always taking risks far beyond the call of duty.
Heroic Grillman I only did my best, sir.
Ronald McDonald : Have him executed at once.
Insurance Adjuster: Yes, sir. Come along.
Ronald McDonald : This sort of behavior is demoralizing for the ordinary employees and citizens who are trying to lead normal, simple, unexceptional lives. I think things are difficult enough as it is without these emotional people rocking the boat.

Seriously though - what fucking world do these people live in? You don’t want someone coming to someone’s aid? You don’t want to encourage that behavior? You don’t want a man to stand up for what’s right that you not only don’t reward him, but you don’t even compensate him for his injuries sustained while protecting another human being from being set upon?
(+ what scarello sed)
What, the stockholders of the companies involved don’t have wives and daughters?
What the hell is money for if not to protect people from harm and help them recover when hurt?
Oh, right, hookers, blow and *salivates* power, sorry.
Y’know, I’ve been on yachts. Personal ships. They’re not *that* great. Oh, they're boner-inspiring, but between chosing that and sustaining and rewarding the general social understanding that you should intercede (in some manner) if someone is gettng hurt is no choice at all.

“Why is it always 'SOCIETY SHOULD DO IT BUT NOW ME!!!'??”

Well because it’s McDonald’s property. They’re in closer proximity and more directly responsible for his being in that situation. I’m happy to kick in some money to help this guy out, but let’s not pretend this is the same thing as if some nut attacks someone in my driveway and the mailman saves them. There’d be nothing I wouldn’t do for that mail guy. Because it’s personal. It’s my house. But corporations want it both ways. They want this ‘personhood’ without personal or social responsibility.
Well, their property, their employee, they’re the most directly responsible. They’ve chosen - blatently - to value profit over social good. If I refused to help the mailman out, if I didn’t cough up a dime, people would say I was a dick, and they’d be right. And if I were so silly rich that I could pay his medical expenses ten times over without depleating even the change I keep in the ashtray of my car - calls for removing the mote from other folks’ eyes for not kicking in would sound pretty weak as well.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:57 AM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


When he blamed 'society' for not doing anything. Society is us.

Um, yeah...except that in the line you quoted the word we appeared immediately after the word society, so it wasn't exactly pushing it off on someone else. And now I'm confused about whether it is the pot or the kettle that is whining.
posted by troybob at 12:01 PM on February 19, 2009


Nobody kills anyone at McDonalds except me, Zed and cholesterol.
posted by digsrus at 12:05 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I worked at a McD's in Chicago one summer when I was a teenager. That was admittedly a long time ago now, and things may have changed, but I received no formal training. I did receive a few documents instructing me in the procedures for making the various products (these were written in a remarkably bureaucratic, impenetrable style that even then struck me as incredibly inappropriate for the kinds of people who work minimum-wage jobs).

The only training I did receive was from a fellow peon who actually walked me through those procedures while we were on-shift (the phrase "stage your buns" remains stuck in my mind). At no point did anybody tell me "don't be a hero." And I'm glad I never was called upon to be one during my short time there.
posted by adamrice at 12:08 PM on February 19, 2009


Burger King: "My name is Burger King, and I approve this message."

Paid for by the Committee to Re-elect Burger... king?
posted by Westringia F. at 12:14 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The insurer involved is likely one which insures the franchise and not McDonald's Corporation overall.

Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing is a Little Rock, Arkansas-based insurance company. So, yes, it has as one of its clients the local franchise-owned McDonald's resaturant in question.

"Big corporate" McDonald's is not directly involved in this action. Maybe public-opinion would be better directed at the insurance company -- and not McDonald's Corporation -- for not backing-up the claim which is now in dispute at the Pulaski Circuit Court in Little Rock.
posted by ericb at 12:14 PM on February 19, 2009


Yeah, but as pointed out above, big corporate McDonald's has every incentive to make this their business and do the right thing.
posted by caddis at 12:18 PM on February 19, 2009


Yeah, but as pointed out above, big corporate McDonald's has every incentive to make this their business and do the right thing.

Yes, as I, too, pointed out in my comment above:
"While this is indeed a local issue it would behoove McDonald's Corporation to consider applying pressure on the franchisee and it's insurance company to provide worker comp. benefits to Haskett. It's the right thing to do.

Also, many people don't know the distinction between the entities involved. McDonald's comes out looking bad and heartless, if benefits are denied."
What I'm saying is that the insurance company should also be a target for hearing public opinion on this matter.
posted by ericb at 12:20 PM on February 19, 2009


Fucking McDonalds. AN employee FINALLY does something to preserve rather than shorten the lifespan of a customer and he gets "no dice".

I didn't really put McDonalds into the same category of WalMart which needs more police protection than it pays taxes/brings in revenue for...but maybe I should.

Fucking McDonalds.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:24 PM on February 19, 2009


It's possible the first time McDonald's corp heard about this is when someone wrote a newspaper article.

It's not like you as franchisee are crowing to corporate about the gun shootings in your store.
posted by smackfu at 12:24 PM on February 19, 2009


I know nothing about the law or insurance, so maybe this is a really dumb question, but: shouldn't the guy who actually shot Haskett be financially liable for his medical bills?
posted by ourobouros at 12:36 PM on February 19, 2009


...the insurance company should also be a target for hearing public opinion on this matter.

Workers' compensation insurance companies do things to people that make a violent shooting look like a fringe benefit. They pretty much get away with it because injured workers are not a united group that can fight it, and because there's still the popular notion that injured workers are all fraudsters. I've worked with a police officer literally trampled by horses, who will have pain for the rest of his life, go through excruciating withdrawal from narcotics because the insurance company fights authorization on every single refill. I've heard claims examiners argue that no condition exists that requires more than 12 physical therapy visits. I've seen policies that assert that one who is comatose is not considered 100% disabled.
posted by troybob at 12:37 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Does it mention in the video (which I can't watch at work) why he's wearing a military uniform in the picture in the article? Is he in the reserves or something? Would he be entitled to any health benefits from the military?

Also, why was Kennon's warrant for battery and not attempted murder?
posted by desjardins at 1:57 PM on February 19


desjardins, the uniform looks like high school Air Force Junior ROTC rather than an actual (active or reserve) uniform.
posted by XcentricOrbit at 12:39 PM on February 19, 2009


The dean then got a letter from the P.R. department of McDs asking him if he knew that McJobs was their program to provide jobs and training for the mentally challenged and claiming that his use of McJobs was both incorrect and demeaning to these mentally challenged workers.

This made me wonder which came first, the slang term or the training program. I found two mentions of the program in July 1991; one of them says the program started in 1981. On the other hand, then-chairman/CEO Jim Cantalupo didn't mention the program in a November 2003 letter to Merriam-Webster complaining about their adding "McJob" to their dictionary. (He mentioned training in general, but not the specific program for the mentally challenged.)
posted by kirkaracha at 12:46 PM on February 19, 2009


ericb: "Big corporate" McDonald's is not directly involved in this action. Maybe public-opinion would be better directed at the insurance company -- and not McDonald's Corporation

I've decided to give hating both McDonalds and the insurance company equally a shot, though I've also decided to hate the dude that did the actual shooting even more.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:54 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


If a corporation was a person it would be a psychopath.

Pro tip: Corporations are people. There's, like, a board of directors and shareholders and executives and all that shit.

Got a 401-k? Congrats! You're part of a corporation.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:05 PM on February 19, 2009


Wow.
I cannot express just how twisted and sad this story, and every one like it, sounds to someone who has grown up and lives in a country with socialised healthcare.

I realise that I've just used some dirty words. I'm not trying to be nasty, I'm not trolling you 'mericans, I just ... don't understand how you live with this system that (you're going to hate this) seems so savage, so uncivilised.

That said, we pay 33c in the dollar in income tax here (middle income), I assume that would be unacceptable to most USA voters?
posted by Catch at 1:28 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, corporations bad? Is that the takeaway message?

No, corporations that don't take any responsibility for the welfare of their employees are bad, and this is a pretty good example.

Any kind of decent human being would recognize this action for what it is. It's nice of the insurance companies to remind us how far outside that category they really are.
posted by namespan at 1:29 PM on February 19, 2009


Aren't all (most?) McDonald's franchised? Does the franchise fee include group insurance or does each restaurant have to provide their own? If the latter is the case, it's not the corporation's fault, it's the insurance company's (and the franchisee who paid for them). It would, of course, be then be an opportunity for the corporation to come in and do the right thing but I don't see that happening.
posted by tommasz at 1:34 PM on February 19, 2009


A little devil's advocacy:**

First things first: McD's can't mandate that their employees get personally involved in altercations. Nor should they.

If McD's permitted their employees get involved in altercations, then McD's is permitting them to engage in activities that could likely lead to employee injury, of which McD (or their insurance) would have to bear the cost.

That leaves only one option - prohibiting involvement in altercations, outside of contacting the proper authorities.

Every place of employment I have ever heard of has a similar policy (unless you work in security - and even then, sometimes the policy is the same). No employer wants to let its employees get involved in other people's fights.

Heroes take risks at their own peril. That is not to say that they shouldn't be recognized for their deeds, but you can't make it part of the job description.

Also note that Haskell did not get fired for intervening.

** I'm actually hoping that Haskell wins his Workers Comp case. In fact, I think he will. I want to note that Workers Comp almost always denies these claims initially, especially ones with six-figure numbers. I'd be shocked if any workers comp insurance accepted the claim right off the bat.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:36 PM on February 19, 2009


I've worked with a police officer literally trampled by horses, who will have pain for the rest of his life, go through excruciating withdrawal from narcotics because the insurance company fights authorization on every single refill. I've heard claims examiners argue that no condition exists that requires more than 12 physical therapy visits. I've seen policies that assert that one who is comatose is not considered 100% disabled.

Good Lord.

We either need criminal laws regarding blatantly obstructionist behavior by insurance companies, or we need vigilante justice.
posted by namespan at 1:42 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Perhaps the apparent benefit in general goodwill the McDonald's corporation or the individual franchisee would garner by compensating the poor guy--which we can probably assume they are smart enough to perceive--is being offset by their need to remain consistent in discouraging anything that might resemble endorsement of individual agency and or encouragement of personal decision making over rote adherence to rules and procedures.

Perhaps they feel that it isn't for the employee to decide if their corporate agents (i.e. workers) should extend this kind of protection to customers, which is supported by our sense of common decency but not mandated by the law; such that this act of heroism becomes an unacceptable usurpation of the corporation's right to decline to rise to this standard --a decision that they have apparently made preemptively after administrative consideration of risk vs. reward, and a decision brought to the fore when highlighted by the lack of insurance coverage for anyone acting otherwise.

Why might this be?

Milgramfilter: stranger things more troubling to one's confidence in the social contract have transpired at McDonalds. The Louise Ogborn story.

To wit:


Summers, 51, conceded later that she had never known Ogborn to do a thing dishonest. But she nonetheless led Ogborn to the restaurant's small office, locked the door, and -- following the caller's instructions -- ordered her to remove one item of clothing at a time, until she was naked.

"She was crying," recalled Kim Dockery, 40, another assistant manager, who stood by watching. "A little young girl standing there naked wasn't a pretty sight."

Summers said later that "Officer Scott," who stayed on the telephone, giving his orders, sounded authentic. He said he had "McDonald's corporate" on the line, as well as the store manager, whom he mentioned by name. And she thought she could hear police radios in the background.

Summers shook each garment, placed it in a bag and took the bag away. "I did exactly what he said to do," Summers said of her caller.

It was just after 5 p.m., and for Ogborn, hours of degradation and abuse were just beginning.


A notable passage from later in the article linked:


In her book, "Making Fast Food: From the Frying Pan into the Fryer," Canadian sociologist Ester Reiter concludes that the most prized trait in fast-food workers is obedience.

"The assembly-line process very deliberately tries to take away any thought or discretion from workers," said Reiter, who teaches at Toronto's York University and who spent 10 months working at a Burger King as part of her research. "They are appendages to the machine."



Fast food work is Althusserian hell.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:51 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


It would be nice if McD's gave the guy a "heroism bonus" or something, but I don't think the worker's comp claim has any merit. It's not a bona fide worker's compensation issue.

I'm not saying the guy shouldn't be applauded for doing what he did, or that we shouldn't -- as a society -- encourage people to be more than passive corporate drones, but that should be handled via some other method than Worker's Comp insurance.

At the very least they should sue the living daylights out of the shooter, get some sort of un-bankruptable judgment against him, and garnish whatever wages he might accrue for the rest of his life or until the judgment is paid off with interest. (And I say that only because my gut reaction -- make him the chattel property of the person he injured for some period of time as compensation -- is impractical.)

It's tempting to go after McDonalds or their insurance company simply because they have deep pockets, but that doesn't mean they're really responsible for paying out due to a third party's misdeeds that happened to occur on their property. Just think of how much of a mess that would create as precedent.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:57 PM on February 19, 2009


Um, yeah...except that in the line you quoted the word we appeared immediately after the word society, so it wasn't exactly pushing it off on someone else. And now I'm confused about whether it is the pot or the kettle that is whining

Let me try to clear it up for you. I am not whining on a message board that society should do something. The original poster of that comment is. And the use of "we" doesn't excuse the poster from bitching but not doing anything. If the poster wants 'society' to take care of its heroes, then do like that judge in this case did and start a freakin charity.
posted by spicynuts at 1:58 PM on February 19, 2009


I cannot express just how twisted and sad this story, and every one like it, sounds to someone who has grown up and lives in a country with socialised healthcare.

Luckily our gun laws mean that emergency rooms are used to dealing with gunshot wounds. In many countries, he just would have died.
posted by smackfu at 2:02 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aren't all (most?) McDonald's franchised?

As per the 2007 Annual Report:
"Our franchising initiatives have brought our restaurant ownership mix to 78% franchised, 22% Company-operated."
Does the franchise fee include group insurance or does each restaurant have to provide their own?

I think each franchisee secures their own ... and likely within the state they operate. The McDonald's we are discussing is in Little Rock, Arkansas, as is their insurance provider.

Many insurance companies invite application for "McDonald's Owner/Operator Insurance Application Workers' Compensation" by franchise owners/operators.
posted by ericb at 2:07 PM on February 19, 2009


Luckily our gun laws mean that emergency rooms are used to dealing with gunshot wounds.

Americans: do your part for the betterment of medicine! Shooting to wound isn't only every persons civic duty, it's good science too.

Next on Enclave Radio, a special message from President Eden.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:09 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Open season on workplace shootings! If you are in the insurance business.
posted by Xoebe at 2:13 PM on February 19, 2009


No, corporations that don't take any responsibility for the welfare of their employees are bad, and this is a pretty good example.

So, I assume you've donated to his recovery fund?
posted by electroboy at 2:15 PM on February 19, 2009


I want to note that Workers Comp almost always denies these claims initially, especially ones with six-figure numbers. I'd be shocked if any workers comp insurance accepted the claim right off the bat.

Seconding this. I have a family member currently fighting a claim. I don't want to say much about it for that reason, but the case is absolutely cut-and-dried and they still denied it. So now the person, who can't work, is forced to get a lawyer to fight them.
posted by desjardins at 2:19 PM on February 19, 2009


Oh good God, snuffleupagus, if I hadn't already lost all confidence in the basic goodness of American society, that link did it. What a bunch of Nazi wannabes we've become.
posted by Michael Roberts at 2:27 PM on February 19, 2009


Why is it always 'SOCIETY SHOULD DO IT BUT NOW ME!!!'??

Yeah, my post never said that, but I guess I will let you have your internet snark if it makes you feel better.
posted by scarello at 2:30 PM on February 19, 2009


snuffleupagus: Ho. Lee. Shit.

I had briefly heard about that incident, but that article is just bone-chilling.
posted by desjardins at 2:30 PM on February 19, 2009


Milgramfilter: stranger things more troubling to one's confidence in the social contract have transpired at McDonalds. The Louise Ogborn story.

Just one incident of the infamous 'strip search prank call scam' perpetrated against many other retail store employees.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit season 9 episode 17 covered this scam and the Milgram experiment (with Robin Williams portraying the "cop," perpetrating the crimes).
posted by ericb at 2:43 PM on February 19, 2009


It does seem to me that the employee in question shouldn't have gotten physical at all with the person in question, and probably should not have followed him outside. Call the police, let the person know that the police are being contacted, let the abused customer know that the police are coming, and ask her if she needs any medical treatment or wants to wait in the back room until the police arrive.

But no, don't go outside after angering a hostile customer. Wait for the police...!
posted by markkraft at 2:45 PM on February 19, 2009


orange swan> And about 15 years ago the dean of my program at the community college I was then attending made an appearance somewhere and gave a speech about globalization that included the word "McJobs", which in the context of his speech meant unskilled, poorly paid work that provided little or no chance for advancement. This speech was covered in a small newspaper with a circulation of about 40,000. The dean then got a letter from the P.R. department of McDs asking him if he knew that McJobs was their program to provide jobs and training for the mentally challenged and claiming that his use of McJobs was both incorrect and demeaning to these mentally challenged workers.

Speaking of the mentally challenged, a friend of mine back in college told me a story about a friend of his who once worked at a McDonald's. A busload of mentally challenged people came into his restaurant once, and they had been coached to give their orders to the cashiers.

McDonald's policy was to upsell them ("Do you want fries with that?", "Would you like that supersized?", etc.), but my friend's friend refused to do that, because he didn't feel like confusing or otherwise causing discomfort to these people. His manager took him aside, took him to task, and told him to commence with the upselling. My friend's friend refused. And he was fired on the spot.

Sometimes I wish it were literally possible to take a corporation like McDonald's and fuck it in the ear.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 2:50 PM on February 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


ABC News 'Primetime Live' segment on the Louise Ogborn ordeal [video | 09:58].
posted by ericb at 2:58 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This kind of hit home for me. I used to work in commisioned sales for a major electronics retailer. One day I dealt with a woman with a toddler in tow. The woman seemed to be either crazy or coked/methed up. The child was acting up and she smacked his face hard enough to leave a red palmprint and lift him off the ground. Every instinct in me wanted to pull the kid away from her, slap her face and say "How's it feel, huh??" and then call the cops, but I knew that by doing any of those things I'd be risking my job, so I just held my tongue. It was a crucial moment for me in deciding to leave retail for awhile. Looking back it might have been worth the firing although it would've meant some lean times (and the store closed not long after anyway).

The whole 'customer is alwyas right' mentality can lead to some ugly moments.
posted by jonmc at 3:16 PM on February 19, 2009


My friend's friend refused. And he was fired on the spot. Sometimes I wish it were literally possible to take a corporation like McDonald's and fuck it in the ear.

Sometimes I wish it were literally possible to take an asshole shift manager and fuck him in the ear, the eye or the ass for being such a dickwad.
posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on February 19, 2009


ericb> Sometimes I wish it were literally possible to take an asshole shift manager and fuck him in the ear, the eye or the ass for being such a dickwad.

I agree, nothing I said above should be meant to take away the shift manager's responsibility for his douchebaggery.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 3:55 PM on February 19, 2009


That said, we pay 33c in the dollar in income tax here (middle income), I assume that would be unacceptable to most USA voters?

That's high by American standards unless you make more than $171,000 per year, but the marginal tax rate for single Americans $82,251 – $171,550 is 28%, with health insurance on top of that for many people. You pay bit more, but your coverage is guaranteed. Our coverage is there as long as we don't need it. In a case like this it's the insurance company's duty to their shareholders to avoid as much as possible paying for the victim's care.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:02 PM on February 19, 2009


When one person wants to fight and the person they want to fight is doing anything that isn't running away, that second person is fighting whether they want to or not.

Then there is a whole lot of pacifists and peace-marchers that need to be told they're doing it wrong.
I agree he probably should of used a little more tact in the first place, but some people are really set off by a man hitting a woman.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:11 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. Do ya think the negative publicity from this will cost McDonald's more than $300,000? One can only hope. And then one can hope they'll pay it anyway.
posted by zardoz at 4:15 PM on February 19, 2009


kirkaracha - that link - OW OW my brain! But I wonder what percentage of my income I'd have to pay to get the total cover I get here, privately.
posted by Catch at 4:27 PM on February 19, 2009


Well, no way in hell am I eating at McDonald's ever again after this shit.
posted by Issithe at 4:32 PM on February 19, 2009


Corporations instruct their employees not to get involved, specifically because their insurance companies tell them they must in order to receive coverage, because the insurance companies don't want to pay out for things like this -- and, also, because it's a good idea to make sure employees know that nobody expects them to protect the goods or customers of the store over their own safety. So they're not bad, just neutral: rationally protecting themselves, and making sure the employees don't think they have to put themselves at risk.

I'm just happy they have to do this in part because some people actually care, and want to help other people. So they're fighting human nature, and it's a good aspect of human nature that they're fighting, albeit for rational reasons.

So yeah, ideally the medical bills are covered, and as for the workman's comp, it shouldn't be -- but the people at McDonalds and the insurance company (the people, not the companies) should perhaps get together on their own time and start a fund, because we all need heroes, don't we?
posted by davejay at 5:35 PM on February 19, 2009


Lessons Learned:

3) Don't assume that your insurance is going to cover you if you get injured. Have some back-up savings at hand in case you need to take off work after being shot in the stomach - and to pay for the medical bills involved.



Oh man, I remember when I worked in fast food. I totally could have saved up 300,000 to pay medical bills.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:44 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a coinkydink. Just the other week I arrived at McD's (yeah, I'll eat the breakfast occasionally) just in time to witness a huge screaming match between an apparently disgruntled customer and a worker. Luckily, the guy just walked away yelling the whole time, no firearms involved. I've never seen this type of thing at other fast food places. Never a dull moment at McD's!
posted by telstar at 2:11 AM on February 20, 2009


As mentioned numerous times above, it's the insurance company which is being the asshole here -- and not the franchisee or McDonald's corporate.
“After three surgeries, $300,000 in medical bills and six months recovery, Haskett filed a workers compensation claim for his injuries.

Claims specialist Misty Thompson with insurance company Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing responded, denying Haskett's claim.

‘We've denied this claim in its entirety, it's our opinion that Mr. Haskett's injuries did not arise out of or within the course of his employment,’ a portion of the statement reads.

Philip Wilson is Haskett's attorney. He says the defense from McDonald's insurer is baffling.

‘Seems like any employer would want a disturbance stopped and that's what this young man was simply trying to do,’ Wilson says.

Wilson says he is now seeking a hearing before the Workers Compensation Commission.

‘Nigel is a very nice young man,’ Wilson told FOX16 News Thursday. ‘He says 'yes sir, no sir' and he was just doing what anybody would do in that situation, on or off the job.’

Haskett's boss Ray Nosler called him a hero for his actions last August and contributed to a fund setup for his employee. He provided a statement to FOX16 News.

‘We are all grateful to Nigel and that's why it is so unfortunate that he's having a difficult time with the insurance claim,’ Nosler says. ‘Because the insurance claim is still pending, I’m not able to say more about it, but I hope his claim will come to a quick resolution and the right thing will be done for my employee.’

Wilson says the right thing is for McDonald’s insurer to pay the claim.

‘Surely we want our young people to step in and break up a fight if something like that were to happen, especially on your own employers premises, I would,’ Wilson says.

As part of the denial, the insurer included a page that details expectations of employees during orientation. In a robbery situation it tells employees not to do anything that would put themselves or anyone else in danger. Wilson asserts that clause does not apply in this incident.

Wilson says his client has recently returned to work to pay bills. The fund setup for Haskett is still accepting donations at all area Twin City Bank locations.”
posted by ericb at 3:47 PM on February 20, 2009


Whenever I hear the word "hero" applied to some person, I can predict two things with a fairly high degree of accuracy: 1) it's almost always talking about a man (most often a young man); 2) the act of "heroism" almost always involved doing something violent.

I find this infuriating, because it's, at best, a half-truth, and at worst a pernicious framing device that ends up fueling the violent behaviors of a violent society under the guise of virtue. For one, it fuels the idea that war trumps diplomacy. And how did this "heroic" "virtue" work out for America over the last decade?

Here we see the same shit. What did this so-called "hero" accomplish exactly by ambushing this thug? He's now crippled, maybe permanently disabled, and could have easily died. He can't afford his hospital bills. The other guy is now going to prison for a long time. Families and friends--dozens of people--are devastated. The community is further scarred by the senseless violence. The reputation of his employer (who he was ostensibly risking his own life to defend) has taken a major dent. Thousands of dollars in charity money must now be diverted to pay for hospital bills that otherwise would have gone to things like feeding hundreds of hungry people.

And for what? To "protect" McDonalds? Give me a break. He went straight for the attack. That's not "heroic". Why not just tell the asshole to leave? Tell him you called the cops, and he better fuck off now if he doesn't want to get in trouble. To "protect" the young damsel in distress? Fuck that chivalry noise. Punching an abusive boyfriend is not for the protection of the woman, it's for the satisfaction of the one throwing the punch. It doesn't solve anything. It doesn't make the woman leave her abuser. It doesn't change the dysfunctional dynamics of the relationship that keep them together. It doesn't change the underlying character flaws of the abuser. What it does do is further threaten the ego of a person we already know has an insecure ego and a violent temperament. It's practically begging for exactly the kind of scenario we witnessed in this story. And if you win the fight, guess what? The abused woman is going to be the real loser of that outcome. She sure does not want or appreciate your "help" in the matter.

So please cut it with the "hero" bullshit, hmm? You're perpetuating this same poison in the mind of every young man, that the most natural way to be celebrated as a good person is to seek out a good opportunity to channel their natural aggression in a socially approved act of violence. It leads to situations like this. People are dying while trying to become "heroes", but for largely futile or misguided goals.

It's time to change the emphasis of "hero" to people who make sacrifices that don't involve inflicting violence.
posted by dgaicun at 4:26 PM on February 20, 2009


And here we have the first display in my new travelling exhibit, "Pacifists are assholes."
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:46 PM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow. Somebody needs a hug.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:54 PM on February 20, 2009


He's now crippled, maybe permanently disabled...

Um, no.
"Wilson says his client has recently returned to work to pay bills."*
posted by ericb at 9:01 AM on February 21, 2009


“…the insurance agency representing McDonalds says he doesn't qualify for Worker's Compensation in this incident. And the franchise owner of that McDonald's says: don't jump to conclusions. ‘We are all grateful to Nigel and that's why it is so unfortunate that he's having a difficult time with the insurance claim however, the fact of the matter is that I do not have control over whether my employee's claim is paid by Worker's Compensation. It is my understanding that there has not been a final determination by the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission. I am taking this very seriously, and doing what I can to help and I hope his claim will come to a quick resolution and the right thing will be done for my employee.’ But Haskett's attorney says he's entitled to the money, and will fight the insurance company for it in court. ‘They do everything they can not to pay a client. That's what we have here. They just try to get out of paying any way they can,’ said Haskett’s attorney Philip Wilson. There is a process to filing this claim and only the first part has been denied. The case will now go before a judge, then possibly the worker's comp commission. It could even be appealed to the Supreme Court.”*
posted by ericb at 9:06 AM on February 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


McDonald's will fold.
posted by humannaire at 8:06 PM on February 21, 2009


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