The thermostat on a portable air conditioning unit at a Cherry Road McDonald’s read 94 degrees on Wednesday at lunchtime. It was nearly as hot inside the fast-food dining room as it was outdoors.
The Herald asked company officials about the working conditions for employees inside the restaurant and they acknowledged the air conditioning had been out for six days, pending repairs while crews waited for a replacement part. A few hours later on Wednesday, the air conditioning was fixed.
Officials said employees noticed the issue on Friday and a repair service visited the McDonald’s restaurant across from Winthrop University. The air conditioning was only broken in the lobby/dining room area of the restaurant, not the kitchen, said Whitney Williams from Articulon McKeeman, a public relations and communications firm speaking on behalf of McDonald’s.
McDonald’s workers weren’t allowed to speak to The Herald on Wednesday. But, some of the employees working in the heat, including those working in the kitchen, were visibly strained by the temperatures.
Williams told The Herald on Thursday that employees were given the option to leave their shift if they found the working conditions too hot. Employees were also able to take breaks in a cool environment inside the restaurant and drink water as needed, she said.
The restaurant did not close during the repair process, Williams said, because nearly 70 percent of business at the location is drive-thru traffic. “So most of our customers were unaware of the air conditioning issue,” she said.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not require businesses to provide air conditioning or heat for employees. According to the agency’s website, OSHA recommends temperature control between 68 and 78 degrees.