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Work injuries: McDonald's workers seek protection from violence

The National Employment Law Project recently reported shocking numbers of violent incidents aimed at McDonald's employees nationwide. An employee of a McDonald's store in Chicago says the company should provide staff training on dealing with aggressive customers. She says the cashiers are at the highest risk of suffering violence-related work injuries because they are in face-to-face contact with the customers.

NELP underscores the need for training that will teach workers what to do if they become victims of assaults and other types of violence. The organization's report details more than 700 incidents of violence against McDonald's employees over three years. The episodes include robberies, shootings, verbal altercations and physical attacks that involve anything from food throwing and hot coffee attacks to assaults with deadly weapons.

Workers who work overnight shifts are about 145% more likely to fall victim to violence. A significant percentage of these incidents occur between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Reportedly, robbery attempts are also more likely during those hours -- even at McDonald's outlets with drive-thru access only. Employees have now turned to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for protection. The safety agency has taken measures to protect workers in the health care industry from violence, and McDonald's workers ask for similar measures to protect them.

McDonald's workers in Chicago and across Illinois are entitled to workers' compensation benefits for any work injuries, even those resulting from violence in the workplace. However, if customers or anyone who is not linked to the employer of the injured worker caused injuries, there might also be grounds to file a third-party lawsuit in a civil court. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can determine the viability of a personal injury lawsuit, and explain the procedures and requirements for filing both workers' comp benefits claims and additional damage recovery through the civil justice system.

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