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.”
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.
California Governor Jerry Brown was sued by nonprofit groups claiming he raided most of a $369 million special fund for distressed homeowners to pay the state’s general expenses.
Brown diverted the money over objections by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a fellow Democrat, afer she had secured the fund for homeowners from a $25 billion national settlement with major banks in 2012 over mortgage-servicing practices, according to a complaint filed today in state court in Sacramento.
A similar tug-of-war between elected officials broke out last year in New York -- pitting Governor Andrew Cuomo against Attorney General Eric Schneiderman -- after the state was allocated $613 million in a nationwide mortgage-fraud settlement with JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“Harris did an outstanding job,” Robert Gnaizda, general counsel of the National Asian American Coalition, one of the plaintiffs in today’s complaint, said at a news conference. “She made clear the governor had no legal right to take the money, and she protested publicly.”
Gnaizda’s organization and groups including COR Community Development Corp. and National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference are seeking a court order compelling Brown to return the allegedly diverted funds to the homeowners’ relief fund.
“While we haven’t yet seen the complaint, we’re confident that our budget actions are legally sound,” H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for California’s finance department, said in an e-mail.
Nick Pacilio, a spokesman for Harris, declined to comment.
The case is National Asian American Coalition v. Brown, California Superior Court (Sacramento).