A recently formed NYRA chapter in New Jersey, NYRA-Bergen County, headed by high school junior Eric Kim, scored a victory in the fight against age discrimination by successfully desegregating a local McDonald’s restaurant. Late last year, the restaurant implemented and began enforcing a policy restricting one of their cash registers to customers 21 years old and older. This policy was ostensibly to serve adults faster during the lunch hour, but the segregation was enforced at all hours, and Eric and his new chapter saw it as ageist discrimination to be worked against. They responded with a concerted letter-writing campaign, followed by an in-person meeting with restaurant management. After this initial attempt didn’t work, all it took was reminding the McDonald’s management of New Jersey’s laws against age discrimination to get them to change their policy.
On the heels of this victory, the chapter, with 15 active, dedicated members so far, is aiming for bigger and better things. Eric has a meeting with his town’s mayor scheduled for this week to discuss the possibility of a youth representative on the city council, and to ask for the mayor’s support for lowering the New Jersey voting age to 17. Eric is very optimistic about this meeting, saying that the mayor is “a nice guy, and he seems willing to discuss the issues.” He’s also in the process of scheduling a meeting with New Jersey state legislators to discuss drafting a bill to lower the voting age. Look for exciting developments out of New Jersey in the months to come.