Several lawsuits across three states have put fast food giant McDonald's against the ropes over widespread claims of wage theft.
The plaintiffs are looking to form class-action lawsuits that could incorporate over 30,000 employees. They claim that their employers at McDonald's locations—which include corporate owned stores and franchises in California, Michigan and New York—systematically cut workers' pay through practices such as tampering with time-sheets, withholding overtime pay, docking pay for uniforms, forcing workers to clock out while working during non-busy store hours, and barring workers from taking breaks.
The seven separate lawsuits "have been filed to stop this widespread wage theft,” said Joseph Sellers, one of the attorneys for the workers, in a conference call with reporters. “They highlight a broad array of unlawful pay practices, which together reflect ways in which McDonald’s has withheld pay from its low-paid workers in order to enrich the corporation and its shareholders.”
"They were requiring employees to perform work that was simply never paid," said Sellers. "Our clients are among the most economically vulnerable in our society, and they work for a company that generated more than $28 billion in revenue last year and earned more than $5 billion in profits."
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The fast food industry has come under increased scrutiny throughout the year from a growing movement of labor unions and non-union employees, who say the industry needs to start paying workers above poverty wages.
Fight for 15 and other groups have staged repeated protests and strikes across the nation, calling on the fast food companies to pay at least a living wage of $15 dollars per hour among other improvements to labor conditions.
The lawyers said the workers were referred to them by Fight for $15.
"The most significant threat posed by the potential class actions – one apparent arm in a campaign of media, consumer, political, economic and workplace pressure on fast food giants – may be its potential to draw scrutiny and force disclosures about the relationship between the giant McDonald’s corporation...and its smaller individual franchisees," writes Josh Eidelson at Salon.com.