ANN ARBOR, Mich. — McDonald’s employees are urging a Michigan federal court to grant conditional collective action certification for their lawsuits against the fast food restaurant giant. Two franchisees, one in each of the two lawsuits, are also named in the lawsuit. The employees claim McDonald’s and its franchisees failed to pay minimum wage and overtime in accordance with state and federal law. McDonald’s and the franchisees do not believe the employees have provided enough evidence of a company-wide policy that violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and ask that the collective action certification be denied.
The Employees’ Claims
Both of the lawsuits are related to McDonald’s franchise locations in the Detroit area. In both of the lawsuits, employees claim the company required them to wait before they were allowed to clock in at the beginning of their shifts and after breaks. They also claim the company made illegal deductions from their pay for their uniforms. The employees claim both actions violated the FLSA, brought their pay below the minimum wage, and affected their overtime wages.
In response to the employees’ claims, McDonald’s argues the employees’ claims for waiting to clock in were isolated incidents and not a policy or practice. The company also claims that deducting uniforms from employee pay does not technically violate FLSA requirements. McDonald’s further believes the claims are too fact-specific to each employee which should prevent collective action certification.
Uniforms and Overtime Pay
While paying for uniforms or paying to maintain uniforms may not directly affect an employee’s overtime, it does affect an employee’s overall earnings and may affect overtime pay calculations. The FLSA specifically addresses uniforms in regards to employee wages. Since the FLSA does not require employees wear uniforms, uniforms are considered a benefit and employers are expected to cover the expense. Employers are not allowed to shift that expense onto the employee, if doing so would violate the employees’ rights to full minimum and overtime wages.
Employers are expected to cover the costs of the uniform and its cleaning, either directly or through reimbursement to the employee for cleaning services, so that the employee’s earnings do not drop below the minimum wage. If an employer pays its employees more than minimum wage, the employer may make deductions from the employee’s pay to cover the expenses. So as McDonald’s claims, making deductions for uniforms, even if it reduces an employee’s “regular rate” of pay, does not violate the FLSA.
The “regular rate” of pay is the hourly rate less the deduction. It is important because overtime wages are calculated based on the overtime hours worked and the employee’s regular rate of pay. If your employer makes regular deductions, it may affect your “regular rate” of pay used in calculating your overtime wages. Improper or illegal deductions can negatively affect your earnings and your overtime wages.
If you believe your employer is making improper deductions and owes you overtime pay, call our experienced team of overtime pay lawyers today at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your situation. Or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form and our knowledgeable legal team will evaluate your case. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.