Cruel Trick on Homeless Man Gets McDonald's Worker Fired
Detroit employee offered man a sandwich, then threw water on him in viral video
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2015 10:07 AM CST

(Newser) – Viral videos can entertain, surprise, and, in this case, get a McDonald's worker fired. A disturbing NSFW clip recorded by a customer at a Detroit Mickey D's shows an employee working the drive-thru window, luring a homeless man he calls Willie over by holding up a sandwich and saying, "I'm about to help you," then dousing him with a cup of water when Willie approaches and reaches for the food. "Why'd you do that?" a stunned Willie asks before walking away. The video, posted Friday, has more than 660,000 views and caught the attention of the restaurant's owner, who confirmed the employee has been canned, the Detroit Free Press reports. "I expect my employees to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and this was unacceptable," the franchise owner says in a statement. "This individual no longer works for my organization."

Reuters notes the LiveLeak version of the video includes the caption "Videographer states that he did this as payback because the panhandler had earlier argued with a McDonald's customer." That cameraman—in the car where laughing can be heard off-camera—tells a WWJ reporter he's now sorry he put the video up. "They were … arguing with each other and that's what was funny to me," he says. Residents are outraged, with a local bishop telling the Free Press that the worker's actions were "cruel," while the CEO of a nearby homeless center calls it "unconscionable," adding, "To me, it comes from a place of ignorance, not really having compassion for other people's plight." The director of the Homeless Action Network of Detroit agrees. "I like to tell my staff that we're one missed paycheck away from homelessness," she tells the Free Press. Detroit police are searching for Willie to see if he wants to press assault charges, Reuters notes. (A McDonald's worker in Chicago, meanwhile, pulled off an extraordinary act of kindness.)