A Pennsylvania credit union member filed a class action suit and launched a petition on Change.org aimed at preventing McDonalds restaurants from paying their employees only with fee-laden reloadable payroll cards.
Natalie Gunshannon's petition is addressed to the CEO and other McDonalds' executives. As of Thursday morning, the petition had 291,260 signatures, less than 10,000 from its 300,000 goal.
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Gunshannon, a Dallas Township, Pa., resident said in her petition that she approached the franchise owners to ask if they would pay her through direct deposit into her credit union account but said she was told they only way she could be paid was through a payroll card issued by JP Morgan Chase that carried significant fees.
She noted that her credit union account and debit card did not carry fees.
“These cards come with a lot of fees: from fees for cash withdrawals to balance inquiries to lost or stolen cards to overdrafts and even inactivity fees,” Gunshannon wrote in the petition.
“The federal government has helped reduce fees on credit and debit cards that most consumers use, but those protections don’t apply to the kinds of cards companies like McDonald's are using to pay employees,” the petition said.
“In the end, I feared that once all of the fees from getting my own hard-earned wages through this card were taken out, my pay would go below minimum wage,” she said.
Gunshannon wrote that she left the McDonald’s “not because I didn't like the people, but because I think it's only fair I get paid for all of my work there.”
She also has since filed a class action lawsuit against the franchise owners, the Albert and Carol Mueller Limited Partnership which has forced the company to abandon the practice, according to media reports.
The partnership owns 16 McDonald’s restaurants in northeastern Pennsylvania.
“An important part of our value system has always been to provide our employees with convenient, free and immediate access to their pay,” Christina Mueller-Curran, spokeswoman for the franchisee, said in a statement.
“By expanding the options our employees have to receive their wages they will be better able to meet their individual financial needs and preferences.”
The partnership has not yet returned calls for additional comment, but McDonald’s said its policy in the restaurants it operates is to offer more than one payment option.
“McDonald’s and our independent franchisees value the contributions that each of our employees makes every day in the restaurants,” the restaurant chain said through a spokesman.
“As part of its wage payment program, McDonald’s offers electronic payment options in the form of pay cards or direct deposit to employees. The choices McDonald’s provides its employees include several ways for them to receive their pay without incurring fees.” But the company also noted that “In restaurants operated by independent franchisees, the franchisees determine the payment options for their employees.”
Despite the change in policy, Gunshannon said the petition will continue because she said the practice of both forcing employees to accept payment through payroll cards and then charging fees for the cards appears to be spreading, in her view, adding that she has heard of employees facing the same issue in Milwaukee, Wis.
The case also appears likely to continue in court as well as the lawyer in the case has told media outlets that he wants to explore the relationship between the partnership and JP Morgan Chase and find out if the partnership was getting paid for adding employees onto the cards.