Tribune: You deserve a break today

Last year, a McDonald’s franchisee in Louisville got busted for violating federal labor laws after the Labor Department discovered that two ten-year-old children were employed, who sometimes worked as late as 2 a.m. and who were not paid.1

After digging deeper, it turned out the two ten-year-olds had come to work with their parent, who was one of the night managers. However, management had not approved the children to be in the employee parts of the restaurant where the deep fryers, grills, and ovens are.

Not-so-happy meal

A child operating the deep fryer may explain another McD’s mishap. A McDonald’s in Florida was sued for serving excessively hot food, but this time instead of coffee, it was a 200-degree chicken McNugget.2 The McNugget was part of a happy meal order that landed in the lap of a four-year-old, who dropped the McNugget onto her bare leg, where it left a second-degree burn. The family was awarded $800,000.

The infamous “hot coffee case” involved 79-year-old Stella May Liebeck, who spilled an entire cup of McDonald’s coffee into her lap, resulting in third-degree burns. To cover medical expenses and lost wages for her daughter (who cared for her during her initial three-week recovery from the skin grafting process), Liebeck sought to settle for $20,000. McDonald’s refused, and offered $800. When Liebeck sued, a jury awarded her $200,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages. A judge reduced these amounts to $160,000 and $480,000, respectively, and both parties appealed, settling out of court for an undisclosed amount.