Lawsuits claiming wage theft by McDonald’s could be expanded to include 30,000 workers

By Travis Gettys
Friday, March 14, 2014 10:40 EDT
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McDonald's in Times Square via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)
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McDonald’s workers filed lawsuits this week in three states claiming the fast-food giant stole wages from them.

Two-dozen employees were named as plaintiffs in six lawsuits filed in California, Michigan, and New York against McDonald’s Corp. and its franchises, but about 30,000 workers could be added if the suits are granted class-action status.

Lawyers said the labor violations alleged in the lawsuits are not specific to McDonald’s, reported the Associated Press, but they targeted the company because it’s an industry leader.

The fast-food company said in a statement that it would investigate the claims made in the suits and take any necessary actions to correct them.

“McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants,” the company said in a statement.

About 90 percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. locations are franchise-owned.

The suits claim McDonald’s, which has control over staffing at all locations, uses software to monitor labor costs against revenue, and workers are forced to wait around before clocking in when that cost ratio climbs above a specific target set by the company.

“There are a number of ways the two seem to work together,” said attorney Joseph Sellers.

Lawyers said workers in Michigan must pay for their own uniforms, which cuts into their already low wages.

“With $28 billion in revenue in 2013 alone, McDonald’s can certainly afford to provide its minimum-wage workers with this money to clean their uniforms, as required by law, instead of making them pay for the privilege of wearing McDonald’s advertising,” said attorney Jim Reif.

The lawsuits follow a year of strikes and other protests by fast-food workers demanding higher wages, and as President Barack Obama calls for stricter rules on overtime pay.

Obama and Democratic lawmakers have been pushing to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, up from $7.25 an hour.

According to a survey by the National Employment Law Project, three-fourths of low-wage workers say they’ve been asked to work off the clock without pay and have not been paid overtime wages.

Those workers have lost an average of $2,600 in illegal wage theft, according to the survey.

Another survey, by the University of California Berkeley, found that 52 percent of the families of front-line fast food workers were enrolled in at least one public assistance program, compared to 25 percent of the workforce as a whole.

[Image via Wikipedia Commons]

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