More Than 286K People Ask McDonald’s To Stop Franchisees From Paying Employees With Debit Cards

A month after an ex-McDonald’s worker in Pennsylvania sued her former employers because they required that all employees receive their pay via a fee-laden Chase prepaid debit card, she has put together a petition asking McDonald’s leadership to put an end to the practice at McDonald’s nationwide.

Even though the franchisees in that lawsuit have since changed their tune and now claim to offer non-card options to the employees of their 16 McDonald’s outlets, the former employee says that she’s learned that other franchisees in other parts of the country continue to require that workers receive their wages on cards that can carry hefty fees for things like balance inquiries, purchases, and transfers to actual checking accounts.

McDonald’s has maintained that it allows franchisees to determine the best way to pay their employees, provided they do so within the boundaries of the law.
In the headline-making lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that forcing employees to take prepaid debit cards violates Pennsylvania’s labor laws, which state that wages must be provided in “in lawful money of the United States or check.” Not all states have such explicit language on the books.

Another concern, especially for those at or near the minimum-wage line, is that these fees may effectively lead the employee to earn less than the mandated minimum wage.

“I think McDonald’s should be a leader nationwide in ensuring that employees get to keep their own wages in full and I’m concerned for other McDonald’s employees who don’t have that option,” writes the ex-employee and the petition’s author. “Will you join me in calling on McDonald’s to ensure that all employees nationwide can keep their wages and chose to say no to fee-heavy cards?”

These cards, which lack many of the newly enacted regulations for traditional debit cards, are quickly becoming more popular for disbursing payroll and benefits. The fees allow the banks to recoup some of the money they are losing to stricter debit card rules while businesses save money and streamline their payroll process.

There are an estimated 4.6 million Americans receiving their pay or benefits through prepaid cards. Many businesses say that they do not require that employees accept the card, but only make it available as an option. However, some employees claim that they are not always told about non-card options or are told by their managers that a payroll card is the best way to receive their pay.

The office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneidermann recently began investigating this practice at a wide variety of retail chains, including Walmart, Home Depot, and Olive Garden.

We’ve asked McDonald’s HQ if it has any comment on the petition and will update if we ever hear back.