McDonald’s Lawsuit Could Change Fast Food Corporate Responsibility

Ten former employees of a McDonald’s franchise filed a lawsuit against the corporation. The suit alleges racial discrimination that lead to wrongful termination. They filed the suit Thursday, January 22nd in Virginia.

McDonalds CommercialThe employees worked at three McDonald’s restaurants, all owned by the restaurant franchiser, Soweva. Michael Simon owns the franchise company. The employee’s allege that once Soweva took control of the franchise, it “implemented a plan to reduce the number of African-American employees and hire more white employees”. The group held a job fair last March where they hired all new white employees. They fired Latino and African-American workers, stating they “didn’t fit the profile” for the restaurants.

Female employees were also subjected to sexual harassment from the supervisors of the franchise. They allege that supervisors touched them inappropriately, sent explicit photos, and talked in a highly sexual manner.

The racially motivated termination caused loss of wages and benefits, emotional distress, humiliation, loss of reputation, and other damages. The employees are suing for lost wages in addition to several other damages.

Why is the group of employees also suing McDonald’s and not just the individual franchise? Aren’t they separate entities? In this case, McDonald’s is considered a “corporate parent” of the franchise. It is responsible for any abuse or unfair treatment that occurs in a restaurant. The corporation has “detailed instructions for franchisees in areas including operations procedures, bookkeeping and accounting procedures, business practices and policies, personnel management, and any other area McDonald’s Corporate wishes to control” for each franchise.

90% of McDonald’s 14,000 restaurants in the U.S. are owned and operated by independent franchises. But, McDonald’s has 100% control over the procedures and policies that take place in each restaurant.

This lawsuit comes only one month after a lawsuit was filed against McDonald’s by the NLRB. The suit states McDonald’s is a “joint employer” with its franchises, and is responsible for any misconduct. The misconduct in the suit is the retaliation of employees who participated in union organizing. McDonald’s insists they are separate from the franchises, and are not responsible for the violations that take place under the control of them.

But, the McDonald’s corporation has enough control over its franchises to implement policies to stop the racial or sexual harassment. All 10 employees called and complained to the McDonald’s Corporation, but received no help.

This lawsuit may be the catalyst for the fast-food corporation and franchise relationship. In the past, franchises have been considered as independent from the umbrella corporation. Recently, union supported demonstrations have demanded for an increase in pay for fast food employees to $15 an hour. Since McDonald’s is “independent” from franchises, they are not forced to increase pay or bargain with workers. But with the recent lawsuit, fast-food corporations are starting to wonder just how independent they are.

Why the Controlled Substances Act Should Be Repealed

Courts have rarely questioned the validity of the Controlled Substances Act‘s classification system, even though the CSA has been law since 1970. Astoundingly, almost all judicial inquiry into the CSA classification system has been confined to footnotes. Judge Mueller herself relied on a Supreme Court footnote in justifying her desire to hear evidence on whether marijuana has any medical value. The branch of government charged with interpreting the law has neglected to interpret whether the CSA scheduling system makes any logical sense.

marijuanaA cursory glance at the drugs classified indicates that the CSA is deeply flawed. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse, no medical value, and lacks safe use even under medical supervision.

Today, the claim that marijuana lacks any medical value or safe use borders on lunacy. As defense attorneys argued, federal prosecutors must essentially “convince the court that the earth is flat when the rest of society appropriately has concluded that the earth is round.” 23 states have legalized medical marijuana and every year that list of states grows. Doctors have testified that marijuana can be used to treat certain illnesses and many patients have come forward to testify that marijuana has helped them when no other treatments could.

Marijuana is just the tip of the iceberg. Peyote is also classified as Schedule I, but Congress granted the Native American Church an exemption if they used Peyote for religious purposes. If Peyote has a high potential for abuse, it shouldn’t be possible for an entire religion to use Peyote without widespread addiction. And yet, the few members of the church who were adversely affected by peyote were able to walk away without any further health problems.

Cocaine is popularly considered more dangerous than marijuana, but cocaine is classified as Schedule II. According to the CSA, Schedule II substances have accepted medical use. It is absolutely silly that the federal government believes cocaine has medical value while marijuana does not. Medical marijuana is recognized in twenty-three states while medical cocaine cannot be legalized in even a single state.

Wait, it gets better. During Judge Mueller’s hearing, prosecutors presented President Bush’s drug czar, Dr. Bertha Madras, as their sole witness. Madras claimed there was “no such thing as medical marijuana” because “it contains significant amounts of toxic chemicals.” One of those toxic chemicals is THC, the chemical compound responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects. THC is the chemical that police look for when they drug test people suspected of using marijuana.

Curiously, the CSA classifies THC as Schedule III. According to the CSA, Schedule III drugs have less potential for abuse than Schedule I or Schedule II drugs. THC was classified lower than marijuana because Congress gave one research company its blessings to produce “marijuana pills” out of THC. However, the only way to get THC is to extract it from marijuana plants. It is mind-bending that a Schedule III substance has less potential for abuse when it is the main hallucinatory in a Schedule I drug.

I suspect that federal drug agencies realize that the CSA schedule system is completely irrational. Courts have rarely questioned the CSA classifications and what little probing exists is in footnotes. However, those rare footnotes are very disturbing. A footnote in one case concluded that the CSA classification system “cannot logically be read as cumulative in all situations.” Another footnote contains statements from a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) expert who testified that “marijuana could be rescheduled to Schedule II without a currently accepted medical use.”These footnotes, together with the fact that THC is a Schedule III drug, indicate that the DEA knows that marijuana could safely be removed from the Schedule I list.

The war on drugs is the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people. Thousands of Americans are denied medication and millions of Americans are incarcerated because of that hoax. It must end.

California Judge to Decide Whether Marijuana Should Still Be a Schedule I Drug

2015 could be the beginning of the end for the war on marijuana. Last year, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller agreed to hear five days of evidence and testimony about whether marijuana has any medical value. Judge Mueller will then rule whether marijuana should continue to be a Schedule I drug.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller

The case seemed ordinary on its face. In 2011, the California Highway Patrol arrested 15 suspects and uncovered a marijuana farm with more than 500 marijuana plants in a national park. The men faced 10-15 years in prison each. Defense attorneys argued that cultivation of marijuana should not warrant punishment because marijuana itself should not be classified as a drug with no medical value.

For those unfamiliar with federal drug laws, illegal drugs are regulated by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA classifies drugs into five different groups known as schedules. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance. In the eyes of the federal government, Schedule I drugs: have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use, and lack accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Under the CSA, it is illegal to manufacture, distribute, purchase, or possess Schedule I drugs. If marijuana were to be rescheduled as a different drug, the sentence could be reduced or marijuana could be decriminalized altogether.

Judge Mueller’s decision to hold the evidence hearing was extraordinary in itself. Defense lawyers have argued that marijuana is misclassified before, but this is first time in many decades that a judge has agreed to take such an argument seriously. It’s possible that Judge Mueller could rule that marijuana should remain a Schedule I drug. However, the fact Judge Mueller even bothered to spend five days on the issue indicates there is a real possibility that she may rule in favor of marijuana reclassification, at least in the case before her.

A judicial ruling that marijuana has been misclassified is a step in the right direction. However, this is only the first step. Congress should scrap and replace the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) altogether.

California Introduces Assisted Suicide Bill

California lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would legalize assisted suicide. The proposed bill is Senate Bill 128, “End of Life Option Act.” The bill, which is similar to Oregon’s assisted suicide law, was proposed by two Democratic California senators:

brittany maynard assisted suicide bill in California“This bill would enact the End of Life Option Act authorizing an adult who meets certain qualifications, and who has been determined by his or her attending physician to be suffering from a terminal illness, as defined, to make a request for medication prescribed pursuant to these provisions for the purpose of ending his or her life. The bill would establish the procedures for making these requests. The bill would also establish the forms to request aid-in-dying medication and under specified circumstances an interpreter declaration to be signed subject to penalty of perjury, thereby imposing a crime and state-mandated local program.”

The bill doesn’t come without criticism. For example, opponents say the act will convince patients to use assisted suicide if insurance claims get denied or if medical costs become too high. America’s health care system is purely profit driven. Insurance agencies may deny a lifesaving treatment, but will cover the low one-time cost of assisted suicide.

Also, illnesses can change suddenly and many people have outlived their expected life span. Ending a life prematurely promotes a wider acceptance of suicide.

Reasons to Support the End of Life Option Act

Brittney Maynard became famous in 2014 for choosing to end her own life in Oregon after she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Although her case is tragic and controversial, no one could possibly claim that she didn’t die with dignity. Rather than suffering for months, dying painfully in a hospital room, she died peacefully in her own bed surrounded by her loved ones.

If any human is suffering without hope of recovery, they should have every right to end their own life on their own terms. Even if a person chooses assisted suicide purely based on medical costs, who are we to judge? Would we rather a person undergo immense stress from a massive medical bill they have no way of paying? Or do we want them to be at peace?

No one chooses to be inflicted with a terminal illness that will bring about hopeless suffering. However, when a condition of this nature strikes, people should be able to choose how to confront their condition.

Will Other States Follow?

If this act passes, what does it mean for the rest of the country? Since Brittany Maynard decided to end her own life in 2014, proposals have been made to implement Oregon’s same laws throughout the country.

Just as same-sex marriage has been widely accepted and legalized, I believe assisted suicide will do the same. Both have ethical, moral, and religious aspects and viewpoints attached to them. But after Brittney Maynard made such a huge impact with her inspiring story, it looks like more assisted suicide laws will be proposed.

Even Fake Threats on Social Media Can Get You Arrested

Most people understand that social media posts can get you in trouble. Stories abound about how people have ruined friendships, lost jobs, and even gotten robbed from the information they post online. Here’s a reminder that writing threats on social media can also land you in jail.

social media threatRecently, a man was charged with threatening to kill Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. He posted multiple statuses to Facebook, one of which stated he wanted to “give back those bullets to that…[Darren Wilson]” and if he can’t find him then he’ll “return them to his wife and if not her then to his children”. The man’s name is Jaleel Tariq Abdul-Jabbaar, a 46 year old Washington resident. He has been posting threatening Facebook statuses since the decision to not indict Wilson on November 24th. This included messages of an intent to buy an illegal firearm.

Of course, open discussion and debate are welcome in America. It is a part of what makes our country a democracy. Our first amendment allows us the power of freedom of speech. However, there are limits. According to Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes, when “violence or threats of violence that are intended to intimidate, and ultimately silence debate” occur, they are not tolerated and are considered crimes.

Abdul-Jabbaar is facing three counts of making interstate threats, and could face up to 15 years of jail time.

Another act of social media ignorance involves a 14 year old Dutch girl who posted what she thought was a silly prank onto Twitter. Her Twitter handle is @QueenDemetriax_, and on the account she goes by the name “Sarah”. On one clearly boring afternoon, she decided to tweet to American Airlines, for entertainment purposes. The tweet states “Hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye”. The Airlines didn’t take this so lightly, immediately replying with “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.” This in turn caused “Sarah” to send out multiple tweets explaining her innocence and how she is “just a girl”.

The Rotterdam Police Department arrested “Sarah” and she almost faced charges for posting a false or alarming announcement. Sarah was released, but still remained a suspect. Tinet de Jonge, a spokeswoman for the police department, said it was up to the Airlines whether or not she will face charges.

The real lesson here, is to just be careful about what you post. No matter how old you are, or where you live, any type of threatening social media post will always be taken seriously by law enforcement authorities. There’s nothing funny about facing jail time for what seemed like a silly prank.