Class Action Lawsuits Brought Against McDonald’s For Wage and Hour Violations

McDonald’s is facing class action lawsuits in multiple states over wage and hour violations from potentially thousands of current and former employees. The employee lawsuits, filed to date in Michigan, New York California, are part of a nationwide movement to increase the minimum wage at the fast-food restaurant chain to $15 per hour.

The New York Times reported on the campaign to raise fast-food minimum wages earlier this week, with a total of seven lawsuits having been filed involving hundreds of McDonald’s restaurants.

Two class action lawsuits were filed in Michigan against McDonalds and two McDonald’s franchise owners in the Detroit by workers claiming that they showed up for work on time, but were made to wait an hour or two without pay until business got busy enough to be placed on the clock.  The employees also claim that company policies forcing employees to bear the cost of cleaning their uniforms has the effect of illegally driving their pay down below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Similar lawsuits claiming illegal uniform cleaning policies and failure to pay overtime were brought by workers in New York.  Forbes media published photos of workers protesting at the McDonald’s outlet near New York’s Empire State Building chanting “Every nickel, every dime.  We deserve our overtime!”  The protest was reportedly one of dozens planned in various cities across the U.S. to raise awareness about McDonald’s unfair wage practices.

One of the lawsuits filed in California reportedly involves 27,000 current and former McDonald’s employees joining in a class action lawsuit against roughly 100 McDonald’s restaurants.  Other lawsuits have also been filed in California by workers who claim they were not paid for all hours they worked and were denied meal periods and rest breaks required by law.

Most McDonald’s franchises use “just-in-time” staffing practices in order to maximize profits.  Under this practice, depending on the actual sales in a particular restaurant on a given day, McDonald’s makes “just-in-time” adjustments to its staffing when business slows by requiring employees to clock-out (and be taken off payroll) for minutes or even hours until business picks up again. Meanwhile, those workers—who had been pre-scheduled to work that day—must wait until they are allowed to clock back in. The lawsuits note that the employees are not allowed to use that waiting time to work at another job or to enjoy as leisure time, which effectively denies them fair compensation for hours spent on the job.

Since the owners of individual McDonald’s franchises are required to utilize certain McDonald’s systems, equipment and practices as part of the franchise agreement, the lawsuits seek to hold corporate McDonald’s jointly liable for the wage and hour violations along with the individual restaurant owners.  However, more fast food restaurant chains may face similar class action claims in the future.  Some reports show that upwards of 80% of fast food workers report similar problems with wage theft and unpaid overtime.

How Do I Get More Information?  

If you have questions about wage and hour violations or believe your labor rights have been violated, contact the law firm of Audet & Partners, LLP to learn more about your options.  Call us at (800) 965-1461 or fill out the confidential case inquiry form on the right side of this web page.

* Sources: Greenhouse, Steve, (2014, March 13); Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/14/business/mcdonalds-workers-in-three-states-file-suits-claiming-underpayment.html?_r=0; O’Connor, Clare (2014, March 18); Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/03/18/mcdonalds-reviews-wage-theft-claims-as-workers-in-30-cities-protest-for-overtime-pay/

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