Wage and Hour Lawsuits Against McDonalds, Too: Fast-Food Workers Are Fighting Back

As we mentioned in our last post, wage and hour cases against fast-food restaurants, like Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, and McDonalds, have been on the uptick over the past two years.

However, the fast-food industry is, if nothing else, hardy.

McDonalds, for instance, has withstood withering assaults from heath groups, who claim that the restaurant’s sugar-laden food causes obesity and diabetes, as well as from minimum wage advocates, who’ve agitated for years to raise the minimum hourly wage at various fast-food franchises.

However, the tide may finally be turning.

Behemoths like Subway and McDonalds may finally be compelled to change their labor practices and put an end to systemic Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) violations.

President Obama himself even jumped into the ring recently, asking for a raise in the minimum wage, expansion of overtime pay and better education for workers about FLSA laws and regulations.

In March, multiple groups of McDonalds’ workers sued for wage theft. These were not isolated rebels, either. They received help from the formidable Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In a move that’s undoubtedly unnerved the brass at McDonalds, these suits want to tether the McDonalds Corporation to its franchise owners with respect to liability. If the court finds McDonalds jointly liable, that result could set off a sea change in how fast-food restaurants (like Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, etc) train their managers and store owners. It could even have a positive ripple effect on the behavior of other restaurants.

Let’s just speculate: let’s say that McDonalds is found to be jointly liable, and the company must pay substantial amounts to current and former workers. The fast-food giant might change its ways, which could then inspire other fast-food restaurants do the same. In that context, other non-fast-food restaurants will still remain “backwards,” as far as FSLA compliance goes. They then might find themselves in an awkward position: workers might want migrate from “fine dining” restaurants to places like McDonalds, just so they can get a fair shake!

Ultimately, what we want is a change to industry norms and more fairness for workers.

Unfortunately, there is long way to go. For help understanding your rights under the FLSA or other labor laws, call (212) 688-5640 or email info@jhllp.com to set up a free consultation with the Joseph & Kirschenbaum team today about your case.