Days after class-action lawsuits claimed McDonald's is deliberately and systematically stealing employees' pay, workers and community and faith leaders protested Tuesday in Memphis – part of a nationwide series of actions calling on the fast-food giant to stop its illegal wage theft.
Holding signs that read, "Have you had your break today? I haven't but it was taken out of my check anyway," Memphis fast-food workers and supporters demanded McDonald's stop what they called illegal theft of workers' pay. Workers spoke of the company forcing them to work off the clock, work through breaks, etc.
"We want to take care of our families, but it's hard for us to do that when we don't make enough and McDonald's is stealing our wages," said McDonald's worker, Ashley Cathey. "I rarely receive a break, yet those hours are always taken out of my check. We need to get paid for the hours we work and that's why we're fighting for $15 and a union."
The suits, filed last week in California, Michigan and New York, allege McDonald's forces employees to work off the clock, shaves hours off their time cards and does not pay them overtime, among other practices. They demand McDonald's, which earned nearly $5.6 billion in profits in 2013, pay back "stolen wages and stop its illegal theft of workers' pay."
Taken together, the lawsuits argue that McDonald's Corporation and the franchisees are both responsible for the alleged wage theft that occurs at franchise restaurants because of the control the corporation exerts over daily operations at the franchise locations.
Since November 2012, fast-food workers have been campaigning for $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation. The campaign has spread to more than 100 cities.
Also Tuesday, Low Pay Is No OK launched robbedonthejob.org, a website that features first-person stories of fast-food workers who have had wages stolen by employers.