ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The McDonald's employee captured on video New Year's Eve fighting off a customer after he forcefully grabbed her spoke out publicly Thursday, calling for change in terms of protections from violence towards workers in her workplace.
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- Attorneys argue McDonald's has no policy for protecting workers in such situations
- Employee afraid to go back to work
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20-year-old Yasmine James has not returned to work. She said she doesn’t know when she’ll go back, either, because she’s afraid and hurt, both physically and emotionally.
“He literally grabbed me, I didn’t have no control over my body when he grabbed me,” James said. “I was scared, so I just wanted him to just get off. It was just, get this man off me, just please get off me. Just please get off me. That’s all I’m saying. He had to go.”
Daniel Taylor, 40, was arrested and charged with two simple battery misdemeanors. Witnesses saw him grab James after an argument about the restaurant not having straws in the lobby on New Years Eve, and their exchange was caught on cellphone video.
James said she didn’t see the attack coming.
“Next thing you know, he grabbed me, and that really scared me because I didn’t know if he had a gun or knife or what, because it’s like usually things are more crazy nowadays,” she said.
James is a self-proclaimed former tomboy. She said her year of boxing practice as a teen paid off when she needed it most.
“When someone grabs you like that, you have no choice but to get them off you and go for what you know,” James said.
Now she’s demanding change.
“This is the last straw for violence against all workers and all women," James said. "And just McDonald's needs to change, too, because this isn’t the only thing that’s ever happened, and they just throw it over their shoulder, and there needs to be a lot of change.”
Her attorneys argue McDonald's does not have policies in place for situations like this one.
“We want them to be responsible for making sure that not only employees but managers are properly trained to de-escalate and handle these safety concerns for employees,” said James attorney, Shannon Ligon.
James's attorneys also called for upgraded charges for Taylor. After the recorded attack, Taylor reportedly came back into McDonald's and attacked the manager before he was forcefully removed.
He then reportedly kicked another female employee in the stomach while being pushed out of the restaurant.
James said all of that has James afraid to go back to work. It’s a job she said she got to help pay for college.
McDonald's released this statement Thursday about the incident:
“We share the community's concern, and are taking this disturbing incident very seriously. Our highest priority is always the safety and well-being of everyone in the restaurant, and we do not condone violence of any kind, especially against our employees. We firmly stand with our employees everywhere, including our employees at this restaurant who were involved in this incident."