I was using the free AT&T Wi-Fi with my laptop at the McDonald’s located at 3800 Queens Blvd. around 8 AM on the morning of June 12, 2014, when a security guard came over to my table to tell me I was not allowed to be in the building. He would call the police if I did not leave.
This is a violation of my Constitutional Rights.
Under what authority may a security guard do this? I had committed no crime and posed no threat to the security of the building, customers or employees. I was using free Wi-Fi, quietly enjoying the Internet access to review websites I was working on.
NYPD has a reputation for violating civil rights. The press reports McDonald’s franchises have used NYPD on numerous occasions to violate the civil rights of McDonald’s customers.
This is also discrimination under NY State Law.
§ 44-a. Protecting civil and public rights. A person who:
1. Excludes a citizen of this state, by reason of race, color, creed,
national origin or previous condition of servitude, from any public
employment or employment in any capacity in industries engaged in
defense contracts or from the equal enjoyment of any accommodation,
facility or privilege furnished by innkeepers or common carriers, or by
owners, managers or lessees of theatres or other places of amusement, or
by teachers and officers of common schools and public institutions of
2. Excludes a citizen of this state by reason of race, color, national
origin or previous condition of servitude from the equal enjoyment of
any accommodation, facility or privilege furnished by a cemetery
association or associations; or,
3. Denies or aids or incites another to deny to any other person
because of race, creed, color or national origin public employment or
employment in any capacity in industries engaged in war contracts or the
full enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and
privileges of any hotel, inn, tavern, restaurant, public conveyance on
land or water, theatre or other place of public resort or amusement;
Is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by fine of not less than fifty
dollars nor more than five hundred dollars.
For over a year, since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the McDonald’s in New York City have imposed an arbitrary time limit on customer seating. One location may have a 20-minute time limit while another McDonald’s location 1 mile away will have a 30-minute time limit. One week a location may have a 30-minute time limit then the following week it will have a 20-minute time limit.
In most restaurants around New York City, New York City and the rest of the United States there is no time limit on seating. At a popular restaurant such as Outback, customers may wait over an hour for a table, but never have I seen local police pull up to the Outback and haul customers way in the middle of their meal for taking more than 20-minutes. This can happen several times a day, everyday, with the same customers, who patronized the location for more than a year at a McDonald’s.
Around 4 AM, on December 13, 2013, McDonalds at 33-80 Queens Blvd called police to clear the dining area of customers. The police officer told me to order something. I approached counter to order a large coffee. The manager refused to serve me because I take more than 30 minutes to drink a large cup of coffee. The manager told the police that her boss, the franchise owner, gave her directions to limit seating to 30 minutes and her job was on the line. This 30-minute rule is applied only on the third shift when this particular manager is working. It doesn't apply to all managers or all customers or at all stores. On any other shift the customer may sit at a table for over an hour without any comment from McDonald's employees. This was a cold night, wind chill 10 degrees F . I had just walked twenty minutes from 45th Street and Greenpoint Ave to 38th Street and Queens Blvd, .9 miles.
I was refused service. I've been served at this McDonalds hundreds of times; once or twice per day almost everyday for over a year. I was forced back out in the frigid night without being allowed to purchase a large hot cup of coffee, connect to the WiFi, meet with a client to discuss a website project.
The client and I stood outside for about a half-hour discussing what had just happened inside McDonald's, and details about the website, and future communications. We could look inside McDonald's and see customers who had been there more than a half-hour.
This certainly appears to be preferential treatment on the part of the night manager, who is a young, black woman. I knew one of the customers who had been seated at McDonald's for more than 30 minutes that night. I've known him for more than a year. We met at McDonald's the summer before Hurricane Sandy. He was already in the restaurant sitting at a video game in the children's area when I arrived. He said he had been waiting for me with coffee and food, but I hadn't arrived so I lost out. So how long was he waiting? He would not buy me a coffee because the police were there. A few nights before, when the police weren't there, he bought me cheeseburgers and coffee. The night manager discriminates on the belief that a customer may be homeless, or on the basis of race. The friend who had been waiting with food and coffee for me was allowed to remain after police left. All of the customers in McDonald's being served after the police cleared the dining area were white, and had been there longer than 30 minutes. The local police arrived to clear the dining area of customers pointed out by the night manager. I had arrived about 5 minutes before the police.
McDonald's has been serving hamburgers to America for over 60 years. By now everyone working at McDonald's should know and understand what American core values are:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." This is a creed.
Are the franchise owners, night managers, and customers equal? This 30-minute limit rule is not applied to all managers and all customers and all stores equally. There are managers that don't call the police after 30 minutes. People might stay more than 4 hours without police showing up to clear the dining area. There were adults playing video games in the children's area. They do this every time they come to McDonald's. Can an adult eat food, drink a beverage, and play video games in 30 minutes? Is there a limit to the number of video games they may play? In my observations no one tells the adult at McDonald's how many video games he can play or how long he may play them. If there is no limit on adults playing video games in the children's area, why are adult activities limited in other areas around the store? How many cups of coffee can a customer buy during their visit at McDonald's? Should there be a limit on that? This week the time-limit is 20 minutes at the same location.
The Queens borough of New York has the most diverse population demography in the United States. The customer doesn’t know the demographic attributes of the night managers at the restaurant. It may be Asian, Hispanic, such as Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Caribbean, Dominican, Haitian, Mexican, or other. The national origin, religion, race of the parties involved is often in doubt, whereas color may not be.
Black persons in Queens may be mistook for West Indian, or Hispanic or Haitian or African before they are recognized as someone born in the USA. White persons may be mistook for American, when they are from Europe or Asia or Australia - Turkish, Greek, Romanian, Spaniards, Irish, French, Danish, Dutch, German, English, Australian, Israelis, Arabs, Caucasians or Uzbeks. This involves more than national origin. It also involves a creed.
The American creed holds that all men are created equal. People who were born here and educated here probably have learned this and lived it sometime between kindergarten and grade12. Having recited the Pledge of Allegiance every school day for 12 years has a profound effect on what Americans think about liberty and equality.
McDonald’s is supposed and expected to treat all customers equally. The time-limit is not being applied to all customers equally at the franchise and franchises around the city. Black Americans' time limits are monitored more closely resulting in more police calls for time-limit violations categorically. The time limit should be altered or abolished. The Constitutional and Civil Rights of the customers should be respected. If the security guards, McDonald’s franchise, and employees do not know what those rights are, then they should receive more appropriate training before they encounter the public.
Product or Service Mentioned: Mcdonalds Coffee.