Mitchell Hartman of Marketplace Economy writes that McDonald’s faces lawsuits in three states this week from workers who allege the fast-food giant violated labor laws by failing to pay overtime, making them work off the clock, failing to give them breaks, and making them pay for uniforms or uniform cleaning. The suits, seeking class-action status, were filed in New York, Michigan, and California, and could ultimately represent 30,000 or more workers, the plaintiff lawyers said in a press conference. The event was organized by labor-union-backed advocates, who are also pushing for a $15 per-hour wage industry-wide.
A novel aspect of the lawsuits is that they try to tie McDonald’s—and its valuable brand—to alleged wage and hour violations at franchise restaurants that the company neither owns nor directly operates. Lawyer Michael Rubin at Altshuler Berzon in San Francisco is representing a group of McDonald’s workers in California, and has pursued similar class-action cases against Walmart on behalf of temporary workers at its contracted warehouses near Los Angeles.
“The McDonald’s corporate entity was sued as well,” Rubin said, “as a joint employer, and as a principal agent, co-conspirator, negligent franchisor.”
Evidence that will be presented in the case includes software McDonald’s provides to franchises to reduce labor costs.
The company issued a statement saying: “McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants. We are currently reviewing the allegations in the lawsuits.”
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