Workers and state regulators have filed multiple lawsuits against McDonald’s, the national fast-food chain, and its franchisees for alleged violations of state and federal wage and hour laws. The company has faced widespread protests from employees, who allege that they have been denied overtime pay. A federal lawsuit filed in mid-March 2014 in New York claims that the company regularly failed to pay employees for time they were required to be at work, failed to pay overtime as required by law, and did not reimburse employees for certain work-related expenses. The New York Attorney General’s office announced around the same time that it has settled a claim against a McDonald’s franchisee regarding violations of state wage and hour laws.
Six McDonald’s employees filed a putative class action lawsuit against McDonald’s for violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York laws regulating minimum wage and the cost of maintaining work uniforms. Beard, et al v. McDonald’s Corp., et al, No. 1:14-cv-01664, complaint (E.D.N.Y., Mar. 13, 2014). McDonald’s has annual gross revenues of more than $27 billion, according to the complaint, and it directly operates thirty-four restaurants in New York out of more than 33,000 around the world. The plaintiffs work at McDonald’s restaurants in the Queens, New York area. Their job duties include working the cash registers and drive-through windows, food preparation, restocking, and cleaning.
The plaintiffs state that they are paid a “nominal hourly rate only at or slightly above the minimum wage.” Id. at 2. The company requires them to maintain their own work uniforms, but does not reimburse them for maintenance expenses. It also does not pay them for time spent on uniform maintenance. Because of this additional, uncompensated work time, the plaintiffs claim that their wages are below the minimum set by the FLSA and state law. The lawsuit claims violations of the New York Hospitality Industry Wage Order, 12 N.Y.C.R.R. Part 146, which requires employers to reimburse employees for certain expenses related to uniform maintenance, as well as minimum wage violations under FLSA and state law.
The New York Attorney General’s office announced in mid-March that it reached a settlement with the owner of seven McDonald’s restaurants in Manhattan in a lawsuit with similar allegations to those of the Beard case. The owner of the restaurants, who operated them through a franchise agreement with McDonald’s Corporation, employed about seven hundred people as cashiers, according to the Attorney General. These employees were reportedly required to work “off the clock” before and after some shifts, and were required to cover shortfalls in register amounts out of their own wages.
When their wages are applied to the total amount of time spent at work, the hourly amount was less than minimum wage, which is a violation of state labor law. The franchisee also required employees to maintain their work uniforms and did not reimburse them for those expenses. Under the settlement agreement, the franchisee will pay around $500,000 to the Attorney General, which will distribute the funds to the approximately 1,600 affected employees.
If you need to speak to an employment attorney in New Jersey or New York, please contact the Resnick Law Group today at 973-781-1204 or (646) 867-7997.
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FLSA Protections May Be Available to Undocumented Immigrant Employees in New Jersey, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, February 21, 2014
Liquidated Damages Award in FLSA Case Reminds Employers in New Jersey and Across the U.S. to Comply With Wage Laws, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, January 10, 2014