The Reason This Injured Teen Went Back to Work Reveals a Big Problem

December 14th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

A "heartwarming" story about an injured fast food worker actually exposes the reality of income inequality in the United States.

Indianapolis man Cameron Nelson's Facebook post about seeing Jakeem Tyler working as a cashier at a Chick-Fil-A, despite being injured in car accident, has been widely shared in the last week.

"When I placed my order, I asked him what happened," Nelson writes. "He said he was involved in a car accident, but he was working [because] he needs the money [and] also wants to feed the homeless for Christmas [and] needs the cash."

The picture in the post clearly shows Tyler working with a neck brace and an arm sling.

The post links to a GoFundMe page that at the time of publication has raised more than $20,000 to help Tyler.

CBS News reported on the fundraising effort and tweeted about the "heartwarming" story.

While there's no denying that the fundraiser is laudable act of gratitude, people on Twitter pointed out a problem with presenting the story as "heartwarming." As the Facebook post makes clear, the main reason Tyler is working while injured is because he "needs the money."

Twitter users noted that the framing of the story failed to depict the harsh economic reality fast food workers face.

Although we don't know whether Tyler has the option to receive paid time off or not, working while sick or injured is the reality for many Americans who can't afford miss a paycheck.

Even without taking sick days, earning a "living wage" at fast food restaurant is nearly impossible. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and although some states have adopted a higher minimum wage, Indiana has not. Although we don't know how much Tyler makes per hour, Glass Door says that a Chick-Fil-A cashier in the Indianapolis area earns between $7-8 per hour, but could earn up to $12 if they are a team leader.

"We need to be honest – the current federal minimum wage is a poverty wage," Sen. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) told ATTN: in November.

As wages remain stagnant, employers in the U.S. are shifting toward making more jobs part-time rather than full-time, according to a report by economic researchers at the University of Illinois and Penn State.

This means that more workers will have unreliable wages and also less benefits like paid time off for injuries or sickness, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

"Besides the frequent lack of sufficient work hours, part-time workers must also navigate unpredictable and/or variable hours, with their work schedules varying from week-to-week at a rate more than double that of full-time workers." EPI wrote in a press release on Dec. 5. "Moreover, workers in part-time jobs also suffer from a lower rate of pay and benefits coverage, such as access to health insurance and paid time off."

ATTN: reached out the Chick-Fil-A and the GoFundMe organizer and we will update the story if we hear back.

You can watch the CBS News story on Jakeem Tyler below.

RELATED: Why Seattle's Unemployment Data Just Gave More Reason To Increase Minimum Wage