McDonalds Class Action Lawsuits Filed Over Workers’ Wages

Lawsuits filed on behalf of McDonald’s workers in California, Michigan and New York are seeking class action status, claiming that the fast food chain owes workers unpaid wages and engaged in a number of illegal labor practices.

The most serious charges appear to be in the McDonald’s class action lawsuit filed in California, which claims that McDonald’s franchise managers altered pay records illegally and refused to allow workers to have rest breaks. The Michigan claim alleges that employees were forced to purchase their own uniforms, and the New York class action lawsuit claims employees had to pay to have their uniforms cleaned, despite New York labor laws to the contrary.

While most actual McDonald’s restaurants are franchises, independently owned and operated, the lawsuits target both franchise owners and the company itself, saying that the company has some control over staffing, distributes software linked to the lawsuits and fosters an atmosphere that allegedly led to the violations.

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McDonalds has released a statement in response to the lawsuits, indicating that it is reviewing the allegations and that is “committed to undertaking a comprehensive investigation of the allegations.”

Overall, the lawsuits paint a broad picture of questionable and sometimes illegal practices that reduce McDonald’s workers’ already iconically low wages even further. The lawsuits come as McDonald’s has become a focus of a national conversation on whether to raise the minimum wage. McDonald’s workers are often held up as an example of workers paid too little to earn a livable wage while working full time.

Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which leads to a $15,000 per year salary if someone works 40 hours a week at that rate. Democrats, labor advocates and President Barack Obama are pushing for an increase to $10.10 an hour, which would increase that annual pay to about $21,000 a year.

In 2013, the poverty threshold for a family of three in the United States was $19,530 per year, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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