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Viral video of Florida fast-food worker attack highlights chronic workplace violence

According to a 2019 report, more than 700 incidents at McDonald's were covered by media in a 3-year span. But those were just a "small fraction" of all violence.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2009, file photo, a customer looks at the menu at a McDonald's drive-thru in Williamsville, N.Y. As people express distaste for food they think is overly processed, chains including McDonald’s and Taco Bell are trying to shed their reputation for serving reheated meals that are kept intact with chemicals. (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A now-viral video shows an employee at a South Florida Popeye's being attacked by four women from the drive-thru. 

It happened on March 16. According to Palm Beach County deputies, the four women were inside a car that pulled into the drive-thru. Deputies say when the car got to the window, an argument between someone in the car and an employee started. One woman then spat at and attacked the employee, according to deputies. 

Two of the women got out of the car and went inside and attacked two employees inside the restaurant, deputies say. One woman reached into the window and grabbed money from the register, the agency said. 

Deputies say all four women then went back inside the car and drove off. The sheriff's office is still searching to identify the women involved in the attack. 

This latest reported attack on fast food workers highlights the lack of protection employees in the industry have. 

In 2019, the National Employment Law Project released a report it says shows how one fast-food chain in particular fails to protect its workers. The introduction of "Behind the Arches: How McDonald's Fails to Protect Workers from Workplace Violence" gave five examples of violence that took place in January 2019 across the country. 

One happened in St. Petersburg. The attack spurred a strike from a group of Florida fast-food workers. 

According to NELP, in the three years prior to its report's release, media outlets reported more than 700 instances of workplace violence at McDonald's across the country. And that's just one fast-food chain. 

Additionally, NELP says those incidents covered by media only account for "a small fraction" of the total number of violent crimes that happen at stores each year. 

Also in 2019, 17 McDonald's workers sued the company alleging numerous factors contributed to leaving employees inadequately protected, NPR reported

At the time, McDonald's responded with a statement saying it "takes seriously its responsibility to provide and foster a safe working environment for our employees, and along with our franchisees, continue to make investments in training programs that uphold safe environments for customers and crew members. In addition to training, McDonald's maintains stringent policies against violence in our restaurants."  

In 2015, a survey of nearly 1,500 fast-food workers found that 87 percent of workers surveyed had been hurt on the job in some way. In that study, 12 percent of workers said they had been assaulted. 

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