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Taking on the Hamburglar
Wage-theft lawsuits against McDonald's
Published Wednesday, March 19, 2014 1:07 pm
by Herbert L. White

Charlotte activists are taking on the golden arches over its treatment of employees.

Charlotte activist Kwanza Brooks protests McDonald’s policies on Tuesday. NC Action staged the rally as a show of support for McDonald’s employees who filed a class action lawsuit against the fast food giant alleging illegal labor practices.

Activists gathered at a McDonald’s restaurant at J.M. Keynes Boulevard Tuesday to show solidarity with plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the fast food giant, alleging a systematic pattern of wage theft. The Charlotte rally was part of a nationwide series of actions calling on McDonald’s to stop its practices.

Rachel McCullough, 20, said she encountered difficulty at two Charlotte McDonald’s before leaving last year. She reported managers took money from cash drawers, made employees work without clocking in for their shifts and depositing their wages on a corporate debit card that charged for each use.

“I had trouble” at both shops, McCullough said. “One was a franchise and the other was a corporate (-owned restaurant) but they both did the same thing. I would not even get my hours on my paycheck. I would have to look on it, and if I had not looked on it, I would not get my overtime hours I worked.”

In a statement, McDonald’s spokeswoman Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem said the company is conducting a probe of employee complaints.

“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,” she said. “We are currently reviewing the allegations in the lawsuits. McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators are each committed to undertaking a comprehensive investigation of the allegations and will take any necessary actions as they apply to our respective organizations.”

The lawsuits, filed March 13 in California, Michigan and New York allege McDonald’s is short-changing employees by forcing them to work off the clock, trimming hours off time cards and not paying for overtime. They demand McDonald’s, which earned nearly $5.6 billion in profits in 2013, pay back wages and stop shortchanging workers’ pay.

“Workers are coming out across the country to talk about wage theft,” said Luis Rodriguez, a community organizer with Action NC. “Workers might feel like ‘Oh this is something that happened to me once,’ when really this is something we’re seeing over and over across the country. McDonald’s has settled out of court at least 10 times every year for the last 20 years on this issue. Workers are saying enough is enough.”

McCullough, who is enrolled at Central Piedmont Community College, said McDonald’s tactics, coupled with minimum wage pay, squeezes employees who are trying to support their families.

“Seven twenty-five ain’t no money,” she said. “Because a lot of people are living in poverty or living in poor communities and work at McDonald’s they feel they can’t do better. I feel McDonald’s ought to go up on wages.”




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