Yasmine James, the McDonald's worker involved in a violent altercation with a male customer over a straw, is on worker's compensation leave for injuries she suffered during the Dec. 31 incident.
Video footage uploaded to Facebook.com shows a white male customer snatching James by her uniform top and attempting to drag her across the counter inside the St, Petersburg, Florida franchise.
The male customer was later identified by St. Petersburg police as 40-year-old Daniel Willis Taylor of Clearwater, Florida. He was arrested and charged with 2 counts of misdemeanor assault.
Taylor also assaulted another female employee as he was being escorted out of the restaurant.
According to a Pinellas County police report obtained by Atlanta Black Star, Taylor kicked Tateona Bell in the abdomen as she stood near the restaurant door. It isn't clear why Taylor wasn't charged with a hate crime.
Rumors that James was fired by McDonald's corporation spread like wildfire via social media on Wednesday night. Twitter users vented their outrage in tweets directed at @McDonald's Twitter feed. Many believed that James was wrongfully terminated.
One irate Twitter user wrote:
"I'm sorry, your St. Petersburg location fired Yasmine James for DEFENDING HERSELF after being grabbed by a man!!!! Glad to know where you stand on woman abuse issues McDonalds".
But the rumors were unfounded.
One Twitter user emphasized how quickly fake news spreads via social media.
"This post is a great example of how easy it is to spread #FakeNews via social media. Yasmine James wasn't fired & McDonald's is taking the side of & supporting her & Tateona Bell, the other employee who was assualted [sic]."
In an exclusive interview with Atlanta Black Star, James said Taylor became enraged and cursed her over the franchise policy requiring customers to request plastic straws.
"He just started flipping out and cursing me out," James told Atlanta Black Star. "I was like, 'You're being rude. Can you calm down?' But he just kept cursing me out."
Black Star confirmed James is still employed by the restaurant. But she took a paid leave of absence to recover from injuries to her thigh and back.
James said she declined to seek medical treatment for her injuries. She said she is taking Ibuprofen (Motrin) for the pain.
A witness told a reporter that James said she was a former boxer. But James told Atlanta Black Star a relative of hers was a former professional boxer who taught her how to defend herself.
"My family, they know how to box," James said. "My big cousin used to box professionally. I just know how to fight. You know, I know how to protect myself."