I really don’t like smug people who think they are better than others.  The phrase “he’s qualified to flip burgers” pisses me off. It’s so elitist and truth be told, the best life training you can get is working in a restaurant where you have to deal with the general public on a regular basis.

When it comes to Illinois workers’ compensation law, fast food workers do tend to get taken advantage of for a lot of reasons. 1. Their workforce is often younger. 2. The pay isn’t always great, so some attorneys won’t help if it’s not a big injury. 3. Since a lot of these stores are franchises, the owners aren’t always honest about what your rights are. 4. A lot of the workforce isn’t highly educated and unethical employers try to take advantage of that.

All that said, there are a lot of common injuries at places like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Starbucks etc.  I’ve lost count of the number of calls we’ve had from workers who have burned themselves or slipped on wet floors.  It happens all of the time.  There are also a lot of lifting injuries and occasional work comp claims from altercations with customers.

One of the challenges of working fast food is that you often do the same activities over and over and are expected to do them at a fast pace.  As a result we also see a lot of “repetitive trauma” claims from using the same body part over and over.

In a recent Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission case, a McDonald’s worker brought a case for getting carpal tunnel on the job. She had to use a heavy sauce gun which required a lot of force  and other condiment dispensers hundreds of times a day. On busy days that meant over 800 times.  She dispensed ketchup and mustard at least 500 times a day.  After a while she noticed pain in her thumbs and wrists.

This restaurant was owned by a franchisor and he fought her claims and testified that she didn’t make as many sandwiches as she said she did.  The Court did not find him credible though because he was the only one that had access to how many meals were actually made and didn’t provide this evidence.  Much more persuasive was her testimony that her symptoms didn’t develop until she began working there and that she had been doing this work for ten years.

And that’s something I’ve really found to be true when it comes to fast food workers. While there is a lot of turnover on those jobs, there are also many great employees like this one who stick with the job for many years.  Of course instead of supporting the worker, the boss treats them as not essential and fights them when it’s objectively clear that the job would at least contribute to some of these problems.

When it comes to these cases, the best thing you have going for you is the truth.  If you credibly testify and have a good doctor, things usually work out the way they should. I’m thrilled it did for this employee.  And if you work in the restaurant business, don’t listen to bosses who tell you that you don’t have work comp rights, aren’t eligible for benefits or anything else. Seek out confidential legal advice and then make an educated decision. We are happy to talk to you for free any time.