On 18 July 2016 the web site Conservative Daily Post published an article reporting that an "illegal alien" had been fired after she declined to serve police officers at an Alabama McDonald's, declaring that “we don’t serve pigs.”
The outrage-provoking article was set against the backdrop of a month of tensions between police officers and community members in July 2016. The shooting deaths of civilians Alton Sterling and Philando Castile led to national protests, and police officers were killed in ambush shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
In that period, several rumors of police officers "shunned" or mistreated at restaurants circulated online. A group of policemen in Pennsylvania said they paid the bill of a couple who refused to sit near them, a sheriff in Washington reported that a Chinese restaurant's owners had said law enforcement was not welcome there, and officers in Baton Rouge maintained that a server at Las Palmas restaurant had put mucus in their drinks.
After those claims became virally popular, Conservative Daily Post asserted:
It’s pretty sad to look around and see how police officers are being treated right now. They put their lives on the line every single day to defend our freedoms within the local community. We are more than thankful for our military, yet we fail to recognize the very people that keep us safe in our homes at night.
Police officers don’t get paid a lot either. They knowingly walk into possible gunfights almost every day. They do it because they heard the call to serve. They do it because they are true American patriots.
Well, there was just another case of disrespect against cops. In Alabama, last week a cashier decided that she didn’t want to serve the cops.
Maria Englesia pictured above told the officers to “get out of here” because they “didn’t serve pigs.” This was blatant.
McDonalds stepped in as soon as they heard what happened. They immediately fired the woman and issued a formal apology to the police department of Alabama.
Social media users accepted that report at face value:
— Jan Johnson (@JanJohnsonFL) July 18, 2016
Conservative Daily Post claimed McDonald's had fired the employee and apologized, but no mention of any such controversy (by the company or by commenters) was visible on the hamburger chain's Twitter account, nor on McDonald's Facebook page save for one cryptic comment:
Aside from the single comment, no one appeared to be asking about any incidents involving a Maria Englesia in Alabama. Had the story been genuine, it would have generated news coverage from other outlets.
Conservative Daily Post's article also waved another very large red flag:
The image doesn't depict a "Maria Englesia" or anyone else recently fired from any McDonald's, anywhere, for any reason. It's a stock photograph dating to at least 2012:
Conservative Daily News doesn't carry any sort of warning or disclaimer advising readers about hosting fabricated content, but this story was clearly untrue. No public apology was tendered by McDonald's over an employee's purported refusal to serve Alabama cops, no news outlets or blogs reported on the incident, and the image of the woman "pictured above" was a stock photograph swiped from Getty.