McDonald's hit by lawsuits over worker pay

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Several lawsuits filed against McDonald's this week say the fast-food chain engages in a variety of practices to avoid paying workers what they're owed.

The suits in California, Michigan and New York against McDonald's Corp. and its franchisees represent the latest move to call attention to pay practices in the fast-food and other low-wage industries.

President Barack Obama, Democratic lawmakers and labor organizers have been pushing to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which translates to about $15,000 a year for full-time work. The suits were announced on the same day Obama was expected to call for stricter rules on overtime pay.

RELATED: Obama to order strengthened overtime pay rules

McDonald's, based in Oak Brook, Ill., said in a statement that it is investigating the allegations and will take any necessary actions.

"McDonald's and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald's restaurants," the company said.

The lawsuits detail a variety of violations, including the use of software that monitors the ratio of labor costs as a percentage of revenue. When that ratio rises above a target, attorneys say workers are forced to wait around before they can clock in. In Michigan, lawyers said workers have to pay for their own uniforms, which is a violation of labor rules.

The six lawsuits and one amended lawsuit announced Thursday include both franchise-owned and company-owned locations. McDonald's Corp. is named in all the suits, however, because lawyers say the company exerts control over staffing at all its locations.

"There are a number of ways the two seem to work together," said Joe Sellers, one of the attorneys representing workers in the cases.

The vast majority of the more than 14,000 McDonald's restaurants in the U.S. are owned by franchisees.

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