Report: California Fast Food Restaurants at Center of Criminal Threats

Hamburgers and fries are not the only things moving quickly at fast-food restaurants in California.  Data shows high rates of 911 calls from the outlets include reports of violent attacks and even homicides on the premises.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on a worker who saw a man die after he was shot in 2016 in a McDonald’s parking lot in the Fillmore District as part of an analysis on the crime rates at fast food restaurants across the state using several data sources:

Fast-food employees are no stranger to shifts that test their ability to respond to crises. TikTok was abuzz last month with videos of drive-through employees at a Jack in the Box in Moreno Valley throwing drinks at a belligerent customer. Outside of a Carl’s Jr. in San Bernardino County, an employee found the body of an unhoused man in January. And that same month at a Burger King in Milwaukee, one employee accidentally shot and killed his teenage coworker while trying to defend against an alleged robbery.

In San Francisco and across California, 911 call data shows fast-food workers regularly face disruptive and sometimes volatile situations, ranging from noise complaints and trespassing to assaults and armed robberies.

A nonprofit labor organization focused on raising the minimum wage analyzed 911 calls to make the case that fast-food companies should do more to protect employees. The Chronicle’s analysis of the data, along with federal labor statistics and additional research, shows that what happens in these restaurants often reflects neglected needs of communities — forcing fast-food employees to deal with some of society’s most dire issues.

The non-profit organization, Fight for $15, collected crime data as a way to show that more needs to be done to protect fast food restaurant workers. 

The Chronicle article reported the Fillmore McDonald’s where a man died had more than 900 calls between 2017 and 2020, with a third of those related to “violent incidents.” And the Market Street McDonald’s restaurant had the third highest 911 calls between 2017 and 2020 among the San Francisco restaurants included in the study.

The Chronicle got an email reply from MacDonald’s, which said it has “rigorous safety and security procedures in place.”

“Restaurant managers and crew at McDonald’s corporate-owned restaurants undergo full training including a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program on safety and security practices, and we provide the same resources to franchisees to support their teams,” Rob Holm, director of McDonald’s Global Security, said in the email.

The article also pointed out corporations are not liable for what happens at their franchises.

But California lawmakers in the Assembly have passed AB257, which would give fast food workers a venue for weighing in on workplace safety rules and regulations.

The bill has to be approved by the Senate before advancing to the governor’s desk.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter

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