Government Labor Watchdog Says McDonald’s Violated Workers Rights Over Protests

December 22, 2014  |  

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Here’s something McDonald’s isn’t lovin’. According to the National Labor Relations Board, McDonald’s and franchise owners subjected workers to “discriminatory discipline” for participating in nationwide protests aimed at raising pay in the fast food industry. And the NLRB has filed several complaints against the fast food giant.

The NLRB’s general counsel says restaurant owners reduced hours and discharged some workers who joined in the movement. The employers also engaged in other “coercive conduct” against employees, such as surveillance, interrogations, and restricting worker’s ability to communicate with union reps.

Since vast majority of 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States are owned by franchisees, the company has been able to avoid taking responsibility for low wages and workplace violations at its restaurants. But these complaints name the head company–McDonald’s–along with its franchise owners as violators.

“The complaints issued today underscores what most everyone understands as common sense: That the company is responsible for the workers at its restaurants,” said Kendall Fells, an organizer with Fast-Food Fight for $15, one of the groups spearheading the protest movement.

The complaints came from 291 labor violations charges that have filed since November 2012, when the protests began. NLRB’s general counsel found merit in 86 of those cases.

“Today’s news makes it clear that the NLRB finds merit in the claim that McDonald’s is a joint employer because it exerts substantial power over franchisees,” said Mary Joyce Carlson, an attorney for Fast-Food Fight for $15.

McDonald’s said in a statement that it will fight the allegations, reports CNN. The company countered that the government agency “improperly and dramatically strike at the heart of the franchise system — a system that creates economic opportunity, jobs and income for thousands of business owners and their employees across the country.”

That trial will begin in March.

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