McDonald’s employees in three states filed seven class-action lawsuits against the company and some franchise owners this week, alleging they were illegally underpaid.
The employees assert that hours were erased from their timecards, they were not paid overtime, and they were often ordered to work off the clock. In one of the two cases filed in Michigan, employees were required to come to work at a certain time, but then had to wait two hours until enough customers came to start getting paid. Employees were also forced to pay for their own work uniforms, which pushed their income below the current federal minimum wage of $7.25.
“Our wages are already at rock bottom,” said Sharnell Grandberry, a McDonald’s worker in Detroit. “It is time for McDonald’s to stop skirting the law to pad profits. We need to get paid for the hours we work.”
Besides Michigan, four of the lawsuits were filed in California and one in New York. One of the cases in California represents 27,000 people.
Fast food workers across the US have been striking and protesting for higher wages and more labor protections for almost a year now – changes that would particularly help women and people of color. Seventy-three percent of all front-line fast food workers are women, and 43 percent are black or Latino. Fifty-two percent of fast food workers have to rely on public assistance because their wages are too low to survive on. But as Michelle Chen reports in the Fall 2013 issue of Ms., the National Restaurant Association has opposed increases in wages, and the industry “lobbies fiercely against local, state and national minimum-wage legislation, claiming the pay boost would cause job losses and hurt businesses. Meanwhile, the CEO of McDonald’s raked in about $13.8 million in fiscal 2012, an estimated 737 times what the average fast-food worker earned.”
Media Resources: The New York Times 3/13/14; ThinkProgress 3/13/14; Ms. magazine Fall 2013; Feminist Newswire 5/13/13, 10/17/13, 12/5/13