April 3, 2014
By Neal Tepel
A national poll of the fast-food industry on April 1st shows that wage theft by employers of workers is widespread in the fast-food industry: 89 percent of fast-food workers reported having money illegally taken from them. Several managers at McDonald’s restaurants have now come forward to discuss the many ways companies steal from employees.
These strategies include: time off of workers’ schedules, so they wouldn’t “blow labor,” or spend more than they were supposed to on workers; Moving hours from one week to the next to avoid paying workers overtime; and Making illegal deductions for uniforms from workers’ checks.
“I think the worst thing that I was ever asked to do would be to adjust a person’s time,” said Kwanza Brooks, who was a manager at McDonald’s restaurants in North Carolina and Maryland for 12 years. “That’s the worst. Because they did their work, they were there, and they deserved to get paid for what they did. It’s a job. That’s not right. It’s not fair.”
Increasingly workers are taking action against illegal policies of employers. Class-action lawsuits have been filed by workers in California, Michigan and New York that allege McDonald’s is systematically robbing employees by forcing them to work off the clock, shaving hours off their time cards and not paying them overtime, among other practices. 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.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has recently announced a settlement with a major fast-food company for stealing workers' pay. The settlement with Domino's, which followed one with McDonald's earlier in March, means that workers have won back nearly $1 million in stolen wages this past March. Across the country workers are fighting back for dignity and back pay.