Class-action suits allege company is stealing employees’ pay
Days after class-action lawsuits claimed McDonald’s is deliberately and systematically stealing employees’ pay, workers, union members and community and faith leaders protested last week in St. Louis as part of a nationwide series of actions calling on the fast-food giant to stop its illegal wage theft.
The workers – part of Show Me $15, the local organization advocating for a $15 per hour wage for fast food workers – held signs that read “Have you had your break today? I haven’t but it was taken out of my check anyway.”
McDonald’s worker, Akil Poynter said he was asked to work off the clock several times a week.
Show Me $15 is part of a national movement, backed by the Service Employees International Union, calling for higher pay for low wage workers and the right to unionize without retaliation.
Shnette Hooker, a 43-year-old McDonald's worker in St. Louis County, said she had been forced to pay $20 out of her own pocket when a cash drawer she shared with other employees came up short.
“That $20 could have been gas in my car or food in my fridge,” she said.
"One time, after clocking out for the day, my manager made me restock items instead of letting me go – work that I am not getting paid for,” she said.
The lawsuits, filed in California, Michigan and New York allege McDonald’s forces employees to work off the clock, shaves hours off their time cards and fails to pay them overtime.
The suits demand McDonald’s, which earned nearly $5.6 billion in profits in 2013, pay back the stolen wages and stop its illegal theft of workers’ pay.
McDONALD’S NOT ALONE
A survey last year by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research shows that 84 percent of fast-food workers in New York City are victims of wage theft. The cases are far from isolated.
“This rampant wage theft is a direct result of the way McDonald’s and other fast-food companies operate their businesses,” said the Rev. Martin Rafanan, community organizer for Show Me $15. “They expect a certain level of service and profits and the only way they can make that happen is if there isn’t enough money on the table to pay workers for every hour they work. That’s no way to run a business, and it’s no way to build a strong economy.”
Elected officials are also raising alarm bells over industry pay practices.
Last year, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into pay practices in the state’s fast-food industry.
Earlier this month, senior Democratic members on the House committee with jurisdiction over labor laws requested detailed information about the business model and labor practices at five of the nation’s largest fast-food companies.
In letters to the chief executives of McDonald's, Yum! Brands, Burger King, Papa John's and Wendy's, the House committee members wrote that “concern is growing about the fast-food industry’s labor practices.”
Robbed on the job
Fast food workers and their allies in St. Louis protested outside a McDonald's on Hampton Avenue in support of McDonald's workers in three states who have filed law suits alleging wage theft by the fast food giant.
Low Pay Is No OK recently launched robbedonthejob.org, a website that features first-person stories of fast food workers who have had wages stolen by employers.
If you believe you have been a victim of wage theft, contact the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division in Missouri at 1-866-487-9243, or in Illinois at 1-866-487-9243.