Last year, an upstate New York McDonald’s worker notified his supervisor of a gas leak in the building. When the supervisor did nothing, the fire department was called and the building was shut down for the night. The worker was fired.
The case demonstrates many aspects of today’s workplaces: the absence of job protections for low-wage workers, the fact that a worker’s livelihood is seen as negligible, the importance of a strong labor movement, and the critical role for protective statutes and muscular labor law enforcement.
The case also points out the fact that when workers speak up, not only are the workers and their rights being hurt by the retaliation, but the public is as well.
When workers cannot speak up, potential consequences can occur: unsafe food, unsafe water, harm to the environment, hazardous roads, and gas leaks.
State and federal laws do provide some protection for workers who report violations and unsafe conditions.