Major fast food chains targeted by workers in wage dispute

Residents of Texas and elsewhere have likely heard by now about the protests being held by fast food workers across the country. Major fast food chains like McDonald's and Taco Bell are the targets of a wage dispute that has caused their workers to strike in 60 U.S. cities. However, it's not just low wages that are the issue. Evidence suggests that many major fast food chains are repeatedly violating state and federal labor laws.

A study released by Fast Food Forward, an activist group, revealed that 84 percent of fast food workers in one city were the victims of wage theft by their employers. The workers claimed that their employers failed to pay them for overtime, did not allow them to take mandated breaks and made improper paycheck deductions. In another state, Taco Bell is facing a class-action suit from its employees alleging that they were not paid for their regular wages, overtime or vacation time.

Fast food workers have also held strikes recently concerning unsafe working conditions. Employees at Dunkin Donuts and McDonald's protested against the excessive heat levels they were exposed to on the job. A report released by the Restaurant Opportunities Center in 2011 highlights the high percentage of these workers who have been burned or cut while at work.

Even though more employees are speaking out, it may be a challenge to hold these companies accountable because most of them are franchises. The courts frequently rule that franchisors are not liable for what happens at individual stores. However, fast food workers in Texas and elsewhere have the right to examine what legal options are available to them if they have a wage dispute or some other employment issue. Individuals in these situations may do well to speak to someone who is knowledgeable about employment law in our state.

Source:, Slow Progress for Fast-Food Workers, Julie Gutman Dickinson, Sept. 10, 2013

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