The Chain Gang

McDonald’s Efforts to Wiggle Out of the Government’s Wage-Violation Case Are Looking Desperate

The NLRB argues McDonald's fight against the $15 wage protests hurts its case.
The NLRB argues McDonald’s fight against the $15 wage protests hurts its case. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Like any corporate attorneys worth their $700 an hour, it looks like McDonald’s crack legal team is pulling out the stall tactics now that they’re well over a year into the big wage-violations case that threatens to have dire long-term consequences for fast-food chains. Besides the procrastinating that probably comes free of charge, Reuters says the chain’s lawyers are now asking the court to throw out a subpoena because it’s just turning into such crazy-expensive, tedious work. In a filing on Monday, they called the request by the National Labor Review Board’s general counsel (essentially federal prosecutors in this instance) “one of the most burdensome in the history of the agency,” and complained that they’ve spent “more than $1 million over the last few months” to produce 160,000 pages of documents — which in their minds justifies tossing it out.

What’s funny is this “massive” subpoena was served more than ten months ago in December, and it also just came out that five months ago in May, McDonald’s had been watching too much of Hillary Clinton on the stump and turned over “heavily redacted” versions of the requested documents. That wasn’t some quick, junior-attorney half-day job, but the chain’s lawyers were okay taking time to “protect sensitive and personal information” about McCorporate. The NLRB saw things differently; its team denounced the move as the latest in an ever-widening array of shenanigans and argued McDonald’s failure to comply “continues to impede the board’s prosecution of the unfair labor practices charge.” This week’s request to just trash the whole subpoena is really the chain’s newest way of saying, “We do us.”

The case is slated to start in January. If the ruling goes against McDonald’s, the company will owe a rounded-error figure of $50,000 in back pay to workers at 29 franchises. Executives, however, fear that it would escalate their legal responsibility as employers, making them liable for almost everything that happens at the nation’s 14,000 locations.


McDonald’s Efforts to Wiggle Out of the Government’s Wage-Violation