‘Do they hate us?’ Muslim family says McDonald’s fish sandwich was stuffed with bacon

Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
·3 min read

A Muslim family says McDonald’s workers purposely stuffed slices of bacon into a fish sandwich — and charged extra for it in Massachusetts, according to a civil rights group.

“It is commonly known that Islam forbids Muslims from eating pork,” a June 1 news release from the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MA) said. It called the incident a case of religious discrimination.

The organization, along with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), filed a complaint against McDonald’s on behalf of a mother who ordered a plain fish sandwich for her 7-year-old son in Chicopee in June 2021.

“My children now wonder if they are welcome in their own country. They ask me, ‘Do they hate us?,’” the mother, who emigrated from Yemen and now lives in Chicopee, said in a statement. “How is a mother supposed to answer that question?”

The franchise owner and operator of McDonald’s, Jorge Gomez, told McClatchy News in an emailed statement that “these claims go against everything we stand for, and we’re actively looking into the matter.”

“My organization has an unwavering commitment to ensure that, at every interaction, all are welcome, comfortable and safe.”

McClatchy News left a message with a representative from Gomez Enterprises LLC, the company that runs the McDonald’s in Chicopee and was also named in the complaint.

When the woman in the claim goes out in public, she wears a hijab and an abaya, which is “consistent with her Muslim faith,” the complaint said.

In June 2021, she arrived at the Chicopee McDonald’s, where she ordered a plain fish sandwich for one of her twin sons, according to the complaint. This was reiterated by the children, whom she asked to repeat the order “in case the employee did not understand her due to her accent.”

One son told the worker “he wanted a ‘plain fish sandwich with nothing on it.’”

After receiving the sandwich and a few other items from another worker, the trio walked to a playground to eat, the complaint said. When the one boy saw his fish sandwich, “he exclaimed, ‘it’s khinzir (pig)!’” Alamhar looked and saw that roughly four strips of bacon were added.

The complaint notes that this is more bacon than would typically be given upon request. Additionally, the woman saw she was charged extra for the bacon on the receipt.

This made her and her children “feel unwanted and worthless” and that the workers were punishing them for their “faith and religious convictions,” the woman’s statement said.

She did not want her son to eat the sandwich, but he was hungry so she “reluctantly” let him eat a small portion of it, the complaint said.

A few hours later, the woman’s husband was shown what was left of their son’s sandwich, as well as the receipt, and he went to speak with the manager at the McDonald’s in Chicopee, according to the complaint.

“The manager acknowledged that it was highly unlikely” the employee who took the order added bacon by accident and gave a refund, the complaint said.

“Religious discrimination at a place of public accommodation is not only illegal, but also morally reprehensible,” said the legal director of CAIR-MA, Barbara J. Dougan, in a statement.

McDonald’s and Wendy’s are deceiving you about their burgers, lawsuit says

Muslim prayer leader attacked at mosque, told to ‘go somewhere’ else, NJ cops say

Customer with HIV was refused service at Chicago salon, feds say

Chipotle worker endured ‘daily’ sexual harassment that went ignored, lawsuit says