McDonald's workers in three states — New York, California, and Michigan — have filed six lawsuits in the last two days claiming that the company and its franchises violated work-regulation laws, altered pay records, routinely made them work off-duty, and won't pay for uniforms, among other things. Right now, there are 27 plaintiffs named, but the class could grow to include tens of thousands of the fast-food giant's 760,000 employees in the United States.
"We've uncovered several unlawful schemes," said one of the attorneys representing California workers, "but they all share a common purpose — to drive labor costs down by stealing wages from McDonald's workers."
Employees, for example, argue that having to pay out of pocket for uniforms (a company policy) draws their pay below $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage.
McDonald's has had other rocky worker relations. Until the company shut it down in December, its McResource portal advised employees to "break food into pieces" to manage hunger because they'll eat less and still feel full, or to "quit complaining" as a means of lowering stress levels.
For what it's worth, McDonald's corporate office argues that it isn't a joint employer and therefore should not be liable for what franchisees do. But employees' lawyers say company software calculates employee-to-sales ratios and instructs managers to reduce staffing during the day's dry spells — something accomplished by having workers sit idly for hours until more customers arrived.