JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- KFC Corp. says it's investigating allegations that a restaurant employee in Jackson, Mississippi, asked a 3-year-old to leave because her facial injuries disturbed other patrons. The company is also giving $30,000 toward Victoria Wilcher's medical bills, a spokesman said Sunday.
The allegation about KFC was made Thursday on "Victoria's Victories," a Facebook page following Victoria Wilcher's recovery from a pit bull attack in April. The administrator posted a photo showing Victoria smiling shyly in spite of her facial scars and cartoon-decorated eye patch, and wrote, "Does this look scary to you? Last week at KFC in Jackson MS this precious face was asked to leave because her face scared the other diners."
KFC posted an apology the next morning, requesting details.
"As soon as we were notified of this report on Friday, we immediately began an investigation, as this kind of hurtful and disrespectful action would not be tolerated by KFC," spokesman Rick Maynard wrote Sunday in an email to The Associated Press. "Regardless of the outcome of our investigation, we have apologized to Victoria's family and are committed to assisting them. The company is making a $30,000 donation to assist with her medical bills. The entire KFC family is behind Victoria."
Her grandmother Kelly Mullins said Victoria had just been to a doctor's when they stopped at the restaurant. She ordered mashed potatoes for Victoria because she thought the hungry child could swallow the soft food without chewing.
She says she was then approached by an employee. "They just told us, they said, 'We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers,'" she told WAPT-TV.
Victoria wept all the way home and now is embarrassed by her appearance — something that wasn't the case before, Mullins said.
"She won't even look in the mirror anymore," Mullins said. "When we go to a store, she doesn't even want to get out" of the car.
Victoria was attacked by pit bulls at her grandfather's home. The dogs broke her nose, both jaws, cheekbones and right eye socket; the right side of her face is paralyzed and she lost that eye, according to her Facebook site. Her bottom jaw was reconstructed but she needs a feeding tube and must grow more bone in her face before more surgery is possible, it states.
The page's administrator wrote Sunday that "Victoria's Victories" had gone from 250 people praying for Victoria to thousands.
The page had more than 32,500 "likes" on Sunday.
A message posted Friday evening by another Mississippi KFC franchisee, Dick West of West Quality Food Service in Laurel, offered "a big KFC picnic" for the child and her family.
West also wrote that he knows the Jackson restaurant owners "and they have never in the 50 years they have operated in Jackson allowed anyone coming into their restaurants to be treated with dis-respect."
In a message to the AP, he wrote, "I am sure KFC will make their finding public as soon as the facts are in. In the meantime, I offered to treat Victoria to a picnic because regardless of the outcome of the investigation, she has been thru more than any little girl should and I wanted to give her a special treat."
McDonald's had higher sales growth in 2008 than in 2006 or 2007, opening nearly 600 stores that year, according to Slate. The chain was able to take advantage of Americans' recession tastes: Cheap, convenient food.
One Reddit user claiming to be an ex-McDonald's worker said he once left a bag of chicken nuggets out on the counter for too long and "they melted. Into a pool of liquid." That didn't stop him from loving the nuggets, "still delicious," he wrote.
More than 60 percent of low-wage workers are employed by big corporations, according to a July analysis by the National Employment Law Project. And more than 90 percent of those companies were profitable last year.
Fast food workers in New York City make an average of $9 per hour, according to the Village Voice. That comes to about $18,500 per year for full-time workers.
For 40 percent of private sector workers, taking a sick day and still getting paid isn't an option, according to the Baltimore Sun. Fast food workers are especially likely to be part of that 40 percent.
Many fast food workers saw their health benefits put at risk this year, if they even had them at all. Papa John's CEO John Schnatter said he would likely reduce some of his workers hours so that he wouldn't have to cover them in response to Obamacare. Jimmy John's founder, Jimmy John Liautaud told Fox News in October that he would "have to" cut workers' hours so that he wasn't forced to cover them under Obamacare.
The average hourly pay at McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and Taco Bell is less than $8 an hour, according to salary data cited by CNBC.
As more workers fight for limited jobs, many older employees are gravitating towards the fast food industry. The median age of a fast food worker is 28, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited by the Atlantic. For women, who make up two-thirds of the industry's employees, that age is 32.
Fast food worker's went on strike in late November in New York City, showcasing a rare effort to organize the industry's workers. Labor leaders often don't make an effort to organize these workers because the high turnover makes the challenge daunting.
For all their work, fast food workers get very little dough. The lowest paid job category in New York City is "Combined Food Service and Preparation Workers, Including Fast Food," according to Bureau of Labor Department Statistics cited by Salon.