February 23, 2009

McDonald's: Heroes Need Not Apply

Perry Kennon, a thug with a long record, experienced a craving for a Big Mac, so he accompanied a lady friend to a McDonald's in Little Rock, Arkansas. ["I'm lovin' it!"] His lady said something he disapproved of, so he smacked her in the face. McDonald employee Nigel Haskett, 21 at the time, rushed at Kennon and pushed him out of the restaurant. Haskett then stood by the door to prevent Kennon from re-entering. Kennon, not surprisingly, took offense to Haskett's chivalry. He went to his car, retrieved a gun, and shot Haskett in the stomach multiple times.

Haskett has undergone three abdominal surgeries and has incurred over $300,000 in medical bills. Surely, you know where this is going: McDonald's denied Haskett's workers comp claim. They assert that the injuries did not occur in the "course and scope of employment."

According to Haskett's lawyer, Philip M. Wilson:

"McDonald's position now is that during a 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."

Cowards Preferred?
It is reasonable to train employees not to resist robbers. By all means, hand over the cash and stay out of harm's way. Such a policy may or may not be a viable basis for denying this particular claim, but it's a strategy that comes with a big hole and significant cost. The hole is this: the incident was not "anything like a robbery." It was an assault. Haskett rushed to the aid of a defenseless woman. He acted instinctively, as good samaritans usually do. In most states, the actions of good samaritans are considered compensable under workers comp statutes.

The cost of McDonald's policy may prove greater than the short-term savings on the comp side. McDonald's can try to set corporate policy that prevents employees from being good samaritans, but society frowns on such corporate indifference to suffering. It's one thing to encourage employees to hand over the money, it's quite another to prohibit them from helping people with urgent needs.

This much we know: Haskett was working when his instinctive, chivalric response resulted in serious wounds. McDonald's could have shared the glory and given Haskett a medal. Instead, they gave him the boot. If their corporate strategy is stamping out any hint of heroism among their underpaid employees, I'm not lovin' it.

| 13 Comments

13 Comments

I am from a conservative WC state but this one baffles me. Is there anyone out there that thinks McDonalds's is right?

Just another example of "dumbing down" the populace so we all become a bunch of emotionless, robotic zombies walking/talking in lockstep eschewing support for the new socialist state thus deferring responsibility for any kind of individualism, motivation or initiative to do good.

If we can provide workers compensation benefits to persons working in our country illegally then why can't we provide them for persons attempting to protect others from illegal acts?

Maybe if the worker were an illegal alien he would get more preferrential treatment from all the liberal bleeding heart hypocrites who would deny this citizen the same.

Not only does that employee deserve a medal for heroism, he deserves a raise and a promotion in addition to workers compensation benefits. He saved that store from possible attacks on other patrons and employees by his acts. Would McDonald's have preferred to have this criminal go to his car to get his gun to shoot his girlfriend and end up killing several patrons at the same time? Because if that had happened, forget about a few hundred thousand in comp benefits. They would instead be facing lawsuits totalling millions in potential liability for their failure to secure the premises.

Is it McDondalds or an over-aggressive insurance company? To the best of my knowledge, Mickey D's is not self insured.

Maybe, Ronald would prefer if the employee filed a Superior Court action for failure to provide a safe workplace?

I'm sure that judgment would be far more substantial.

Yes, I'll take fries with this comment.

This is a tragic story and outcome. But McD's was a pretty typical corporate response.

What I do find amusing, however, is the wierd suggestion that this is "evidence" of the 'new socialist state'. Hey, McD's an international corporation! And why would they think that liberals would be philosophically opposed to what this worker did or only support this action if committed by an undocumented worker?

Very strange beliefs.

I have to agree with McDonalds for two reasons.

First: He was taught as all employees in fast food are taught not to be a hero. Celebrating him for doing so will undoubtably get someone killed in the future when they decide to follow his example.


Second: He was an idiot for inserting himself in a situation that he was neither trained for or prepared to handle the possible outcome of.

I am an experienced combat infantryman with substantial martial arts training. If I felt the womens life was in danger and that I had to intervene there are plenty of tools in a resturant to make sure that the thug wold not have woken up except in a hospital. The situation was handled very poorly.

I feel for the Nigel and I understand why he inserted himself. But that is what we train and pay police officers for. He is lucky that the thug was just that or he would not have medical bills just funeral expenses. He was very very luck to survive.

McDonald's is wrong, even if they did tell the employee not to intervene in quarrels of this nature. It's like telling an employee not to drive and talk on the cell phone, he or she does and has an accident then the resulting WC injury is denied because "We told you not to talk on the cell phone and drive." And what if the employee testifies,"I was trying to keep this incident from spilling over into the workplace." Not a good decision IMHO. Failure to follow safety rules is generally not a complete bar to recovery, if I'm not mistaken.

Nancy makes a good point. In fact, generally in a no-fault system, failure to follow safety rules is not a reason for denial, period.

Maybe because most of my experience in WC is in CA, I can't believe they attempted to deny the claim. Even though this type of instance was covered in training, you cannot expect this to be encompassed in a safety violation defense. Even for that to stick, it has to be well documented that training routinely occurred, and sometimes documented that the employee has been counseled on this safety violation before (such as not wearing safety goggles while useing machinery). There is no staff training that could adequately prepare an employee to deal with this kind of situation, and unreasonable to expect that all procedures will be followed.

In any case, from a cost perspective, the attempt to deny the claim will end up costing them a lot more in the long run than if they had just accepted it and taken hold of the medical care. This was probably the result of an inept claims dept and McD's should have questioned their denial rationale a bit more in the initial stages in the investigation.

I am no fan of McDonald's and never eat there. However, most of the comments here assume the story as printed gives you all the facts of the case. I can assure you that this story is a scant collection of facts loosely cobbled together and slanted from the writer's self-righteous point of view.

I also suggest you re-read the combat infantryman's (Mr. Read) comment.

In today's legal climate a corporation has little recourse but to oppose their employees taking "heroic" actions. Yes, this is not a good stance to take from a public relations viewpoint, but McDonald's has become a huge company by readily contributing to our national obesity epidemic, and they know that a little more bad press won't stop the steady stream of customers flooding in for their daily dose of fat and grease.

Where is the lady friend's responsibility to be with such a violent partner? She chose to be with him. Why is that all of a sudden the responsibility of the vendor and, by proxy, its employees? Was there a relationship between any of the parties involved? Did Haskett overreact? Was there another, more threatening attack about to occur? If he had instead just called the police would the "lady friend" have even signed a complaint against her boyfriend/attacker?

As a society we are getting used to believing everything as presented in our sound-bite, biased media. Too many of you are ready to pass judgement without having all the facts.

Unlike the random shooting of an employee told here in an earlier story, this claim in my opinion should be compensable in that it arose from protecting a customer on the premises. The fact that the employee did not follow training is not a bar to the claim (if so how many claims would be noncompensable?).
The question of whether it was a good or ethical decision is moot to the question of compensability.

Seems that McDonald's is looking to bypass their responsibility to their employees and try to pass the legal buck onto forcing the employee to resort to trying to collect from a third party.

The employee was hurt by someone's (a customer) intentional misconduct while he was at work.

And McDonald's awards millions to people who spill hot coffee on themselves (Caution Contents are Hot had to be placed on cups) and yet when an employee does the ethical thing to protect their work environment for themselves and their customers, they (the employee) are chastised.

I have to say, "I'm not lovin' it."

I cannot believe some of the quotes that I have just read. 1st he was supposably instructed on what to do if being robbed, this was not that type of situation. 2nd was he suppose to just stand behind the counter and allow this woman to be beaten? 3rd Does anyone rember a long time ago in NY a woman being stabbed to death and not one person helped her? 4th I hope that another employee would have called 911 once they saw what was going on and while this brave gentleman helped this woman. And lastly every time my store was robbed the police asked if we went outside to get the license plate or decription of the car, now we did, but what if we got shot doing so, it is very common practice and even the police asks us to do this.

Ps. It is not the liberals either it's the w/c Insurance Co. that are way out of hand trying to pay nothing to another injured person, my god he was only asking for his medical. Big mistake on Mc D's to allow the IC to dictate such a decission and not step in and correct the wrong instead of backing up with one of the sorriest excuses of ever heard of.

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This page contains a single entry by Jon Coppelman published on February 23, 2009 11:45 AM.

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