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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Unflipping Believable

American Scofflaw
Fast food giant McDonald's has denied workers compensation benefits to a minimum wage employee who was shot when he ejected a customer who had been beating a woman inside the restaurant.

A representative of the administrator for McDonald's workers compensation plan explained that "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."

Nigel Haskett, then aged 21, was working at a McDonald's in Little Rock, Arkansas last summer when he saw a patron, later identified as Perry Kennon, smacking a woman in the face. A surveillance video of the incident, which had been posted to YouTube, was taken down after McDonald's charged copyright infringement, but according to written descriptions of the video, Haskett tackled Kennon, threw him out, and then stood by the door to prevent him from reentering.

Kennon went to his car, returned with a gun, and shot Haskett multiple times. Haskett staggered back into the restaurant and collapsed.

Kennon, who has a long criminal record, was arrested a few days later and charged with first-degree battery. The judge at his arraignment praised Haskett as a hero.

Haskett has since undergone three abdominal surgeries and has incurred over $300,000 in medical bills. McDonald's has declined to comment on their reasons for refusing his claim, because the case is still pending before the Workers Compensation Commission, but according to Haskett's lawyer, Philip M. Wilson:

"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."

McDonald's may be on shaky legal ground in their attempt to deny benefits. As explained by the blog "Joe's Union Review," courts have repeatedly ruled that injuries incurred in the course of "good samaritan" acts while on the job are entitled to compensation, especially if they result in good will towards the employer.

"McDonald’s is really living up to it’s reputation as an evil empire," another blog comments. "They’re no longer merely all about moving in on the little guy, or clogging your arteries with fry grease, or making kids big chunkers, but are also now turning on their employees."

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