McDonald's claims to train people with disabilities in job skills through a program it refers to as the McJOBS™ program. It used to advertise this program on television in a cheery, condescending voice implicitly assuring everyone that those sweet little disabled people were being taken care of.

This training takes place (in the USA) through cooperation with the department of vocational rehabilitation, which casts some doubt as to whether it differs significantly from the definition provided in Douglas Coupland's book Generation X: "A low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no-future job in the service sector. Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one."

A similar definition to Coupland's made it into several dictionaries, at which point McDonald's objected and threatened to sue Merriam-Webster for trademark violation despite the word's inclusion in prior dictionaries. McDonald's had trademarked the term in 1984. The trademark had since lapsed, but the company had renewed it after the publication of the book Generation X. McDonald's, either oblivious or indifferent to the duty of dictionaries to keep up with common usage, claimed that the term was not only trademarked but offensive to happy McDonald's employees everywhere and to disabled people.

<personal opinion>I can't speak for the offense level of McDonald's employees, but as a disabled person I find the official McDonald's usage far more patronizing than any other possible usage.</personal opinion>


References:

Coupland, Douglas. Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. New York: St. Martin's, 1992.
Diversity at McDonald's http://www.media.mcdonalds.com/secured/company/diversity/. McDonald's. Page accessed Feb. 7, 2004.
McDonald's Press Release http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/news/corppr/cpr11102003b.html. McDonald's. Page accessed Feb. 7, 2004.
Merriam-Webster: 'McJob' is Here to Stay http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/books/11/11/offbeat.mcjob.ap/. Associated Press. Page accessed Feb. 7, 2004.

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