A McDonald’s work crew in New York walked off the job on Friday, claiming that the manager forced them to work with no air conditioning during record-high temperatures. One co-worker collapsed on the job from the excessive heat.
Luisa Villa, a participant in Friday’s walkout, stated that the air conditioner in the kitchen has not been working at least since she initially began working at that McDonald’s almost 9 years ago. The employee who collapsed from heat exhaustion, Esheliz Méndez, had complained about the absence of air conditioning or proper ventilation several times.
However, this was not the first workplace injury that has resulted from heat exposure and other improper workplace safety practices. The manager had made repairs a year ago following another incident where an employee collapsed, but the cooling system broke down just a week later, and has not functioned since then.
Villa stated that the owners of the restaurant “make fun of us because they think we’re animals.” He reminded reporters that “We’re people. We don’t want to die and you can certainly die from the heat.”
Greg Basta, the Director at New York Communities for Change, tweeted the photo of the scene shown above.
The McDonald’s where the incident occurred is located in Washington Heights, and is independently owned and operated by Dominga De Jesus. It employs 70 people, Villa said. De Jesus did not respond to requests for comment.
The New York City Fire Department apparently transported the unconscious worker to the hospital after responding to the call Friday afternoon.
Villa claims that she and her co-workers walked out in protest because they believe the air conditioner should be fixed. Not long after the walkout occurred, the owners called in temporary workers so the restaurant could keep up service. Villa hopes that the managers will not retaliate against the workers or follow other practices leading to wrongful termination as a result of the walkout.
Ashley Lutz tweeted this message after the story broke: