McDonald’s Remains Under Scrutiny

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McDonald’s remains under scrutiny after some of its workers in New York, California and Michigan filed cases against the company. The dissatisfied workers insist that the fast-food enterprise is “stealing” wages, especially since they are the lowest paid employees in the United States with an average hourly wage of $9.09. At the same time, shareholder activists are demanding that the company’s board of directors cut CEO Donald Thompson’s salary. The problem has extended to Canada, where the franchise’s openings, which are usually offered to temporary foreign workers, have been kept  open in case Canadians wish to occupy them.

Lawyer Michael Rubin of Altshuler LLP, who filed the suits for McDonald’s workers from Los Angeles, stated that they have “uncovered several unlawful schemes” which had the same goal; namely to diminish labor costs “by stealing wages” from employees. Three California suits allege that franchise owners did not pay employees for all time spent working as well as for overtime hours. McDonald’s franchise owners remain under scrutiny also because they “altered pay records.” Lawsuits in Michigan accuse the fast food company of not paying them properly and violating “minimum wage laws.” At the same time, the Change to Win Investment Group organized a vote against CEO Donald Thompson, who accepted the position in 2012. Although he missed the company’s performance targets by over 50 percent two years ago, Thompson still received the same $1.4 million annual bonus. Although McDonald’s registered poor performances and a massive gap between the CEO’s wage and the workers’, the former’s total compensation reached $9.5 million. The fast food company will hold its annual meeting on May 22 and will be targeted by dissatisfied employees calling for higher wages.

McDonald’s remains under scrutiny not only in the United States, but also in Canada. Although the franchise stated that temporary foreign workers are a part of its business model, the use of the federal jobs initiative is currently on hold. According to the fast food giant’s senior vice-president of human resources, Len Jillard, the program will be resumed after a third-party concludes whether there have been abuses or violations of workers, be them Canadian or foreign.

Three McDonald’s franchises in Victoria allege that Canadian employers gave priority to foreigners and not to Canadians. As a result, the B.C. Federation of Labour is ready to take action against the fast food company. Jillard also concluded that 4 percent of the 80,000 McDonald’s workers in Canada are temporary foreign workers. The company voluntarily suspended its use of federal Labour Market Opinion applications to ensure that there are no Canadians interested in job positions before the company can hire foreign employees.

McDonald’s Canada is facing another accusation – foreign workers recruited from Belize are accusing the franchise of treating them like “slaves.” Jaime Montero and another employee who wished to remain unnamed were forced to share an expensive apartment and pay $280 twice a week from their pay for rent. Moreover, Montero stated that the corporation demanded all staff sign an agreement that does not allow them to speak to the media.

Because of seven class action lawsuits in three states from the United States and the accusations brought to the Canadian franchise, McDonald’s remains under scrutiny. The fast food company’s annual meeting is scheduled for May 22 and it could be the target of angry workers who demand higher wages.

By Gabriela Motroc

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