McDonald’s restaurants are currently facing several wage and hour suits alleging violation of state and federal employment laws.

The McDonald’s restaurant chain is known all over the world, and those golden arches are likely one of the most recognizable branding symbols ever. With that level of popularity comes inevitable dissatisfaction from some portion of the population; after all, as the old saying goes, you can’t please all of the people, all of the time. The restaurant has been criticized in recent years for everything from contributing to America’s obesity epidemic, using artificial – and possibly harmful – additives in their food and not promoting sustainable food production methods.

The latest allegations against the chain involve violations of state and federal employment laws, specifically those governing wage and hour claims like minimum wages, overtime pay, deductions from salary and rest breaks.

THE ALLEGATIONS

According to lawsuits filed in California, New York and Michigan, McDonald’s employees were subjected to a number of illegal actions from their superiors (both management-level at individual franchises and employees of McDonald’s corporation). Many of the allegations involve the issue of wage theft. Wage theft is sadly common among lower-level, minimum-wage workers, the very people who need the money the most. These workers can experience, as the plaintiffs in these McDonald’s suits allege:

  • Unfair or unlawful deductions from their salary (McDonald’s employees allege that managers took unnecessary or unfair deductions for uniforms, nametags, meals or breaks to avoid paying them extra for overtime performed)
  • Refusal of management to pay overtime compensation (federal and state laws require overtime compensation in the amount of 1.5 times regular salary for hours worked in excess of 40 or more than 8 hours in a single workday for non-exempt or hourly employees in California; the McDonald’s employees involved in the suit say that they were not paid proper overtime compensation)
  • Being forced to work “off the clock” to avoid going into overtime when staffing was inadequate
  • Not receiving regular breaks, again to deal with staffing issues
  • Having so many deductions taken that they no longer received federal minimum wage

A WIDESPREAD PROBLEM

As evidence of the fact that wage theft is a more widespread problem than many people realize, a group of white collar workers employed at Apple, Intel, Google and Adobe – some of the country’s largest and most profitable technology companies – have also filed actions alleging wage theft. Unlike the McDonald’s cases, these workers aren’t alleging lack of overtime compensation or rest breaks, but that the companies colluded to squelch free talent competition and acquisition, thus keeping industry salaries stagnant.

The companies stand accused of making an agreement that none of them would solicit workers from each other’s companies. Talent competition is a major driving factor in determining compensation, thus the plaintiffs in those cases argue that the companies having colluded to not compete makes it more difficult for talented professionals like engineers and developers to recognize their full earning potential.

No matter if your job involves a minimum wage or a six figure salary, you have rights. Your employer is bound by certain state and federal laws governing your employment, and violation of those laws is punishable. If you suspect that wage theft, discrimination, harassment or another wrongful activity is happening in your workplace, seek the advice of an experienced California employment law attorney in your area.

Keywords: wage and hour, employment, overtime, minimum wage, unlawful deductions