Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Pennsylvania McDonald’s Franchise Owners for Requiring Employees to Use Fee-Laden Debits Cards to Access Wages
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against McDonald’s franchise holders, Albert and Carol Mueller, in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, alleging that they unlawfully required their employees to use fee-laden debit cards in order to access their wages.
The lawsuit was filed by Natalie Gunshannon, a 27 year-old single mother, on behalf of herself and other employees. Gunshannon says that enclosed with her first paycheck was a debit card with instructions on how to use it and the fees attached. Her future earnings would be deposited into her debit card account and she would have to access her money through that account. Gunshannon did not sign the debit card and asked her supervisor if she could be paid by check or direct deposit. She was told that the debit card was her only option. Gunshannon also took her concerns to the main office of the franchise holders and was similarly told that the card was her only option.
Gunshannon said that she did not sign the debit card or enroll in the payroll system because she believed the fees would reduce her future earnings to an amount below minimum wage. Gunshannon was to be paid about $7.44 per hour. Minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
According to the lawsuit, the payroll card charged fees for numerous transactions including, a $1.50 minimum charge for an ATM withdrawal, $5 for an over-the counter cash withdrawal, $1 to check the balance, $0.75 per online billing payment, and $15 to replace a lost or stolen card.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Mike Cefalo, called the payroll system “another example of corporate greed” and that the debit card method and its fees are “squeezing the most vulnerable of our society. They make minimum wage or a little more and they squeeze money from them.”
Cefalo says that Pennsylvania state law entitles employees to choose to be paid by options including cash or check. While payroll cards have also been endorsed as a legal form of wage payment by state officials, the state Department of Labor and Industry has advised employers to get an employee’s permission before paying wages with payroll cards or through direct deposit.
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages. The suit also seeks punitive, compensatory and liquidated damages, as well as legal fees and litigation costs.
If you or someone you know is being similarly taken advantage by an employer, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a private consultation.