“Franchisees are independent, local businessmen and women who make their own decisions around employment matters,” reads a statement from the gods of the Golden Arches to the Times-Tribune. “McDonald’s requires all franchisees to operate their businesses in accordance with all local, state and federal laws.”
The plaintiff in the case, which seeks to represent all McDonald’s employees who have had no choice but to take their pay on a debit card, maintains that the debit card requirement is in violation of Pennsylvania law, which states that “wages shall be paid in lawful money of the United States or check.” There is also the concern that the debit card comes with a schedule of fees for everything from ATM withdrawals to balance inquiries.
The defendants own 17 McDonald’s stores, so the attorney representing the plaintiffs says he’s had no trouble finding employees interested in signing onto the case.
“We are getting more and more people calling us who are in the same situation,” he tells the Times-Tribune. “They say the debit card is a drain on the pay they earn. They say these fees are something they don’t want to pay.”
The efforts of McDonald’s HQ to distance itself from its franchisees highlights a recurring issue with the entire franchise model. It brings up the question of where one draws the dividing line between corporate and franchisee, which is rarely clear.