LOS ANGELES — McDonald’s employees brought a class action overtime wage claim in California state court in March of this year. The employees claim McDonald’s store managers altered time records by erasing employees’ hours worked, denied meal breaks, failed to pay overtime, and required off-the-clock work. In April, McDonald’s requested the case be removed to federal court because it believed the potential damages would reach amounts best handled at a federal level. The employees claim McDonald’s figures are unrealistically high and are fighting to send the case back to California state court.
When filing an overtime class action, the plaintiffs must estimate the amount of money the employer owes for back wages and other damages. In the employees’ filing, the potential damages were calculated at about $4 million, which is below federal jurisdiction levels. McDonald’s calculations, on the other hand, estimated the full, potential cost of damages to be more than $5 million, which would place the lawsuit within federal jurisdiction.
In McDonald’s calculations, McDonald’s assumed that all of the class members were owed unpaid wages. The company also included estimated costs related to potential future damages, based on the employees’ claim that the violations would likely continue at the franchise. And the company included punitive damages, which go to the state, not the class members. The plaintiffs do not believe hypothetical future damages or the punitive damages should be counted in the damages calculations. McDonald’s and the plaintiffs now await the court’s decision on both the estimated damages, as well as which court has jurisdiction over the overtime claim.
State Or Federal Court
Depending on which laws a plaintiff claims were violated, lawsuits may be brought in either state or federal court. Companies, particularly larger ones, prefer to have lawsuits heard in federal courts, even if the lawsuit is based on state laws. State laws are still applied and evaluated in the same manner in both state and federal court, but, in some situations, companies believe they will receive a more favorable outcome in federal courts. Federal courts provide a larger jury pool, which could work in an employer’s favor if the case goes to trial. And federal courts have fewer levels of appeal that can or have to be litigated. At the same time, these features could work in the employees’ favor, depending on the case. Since there are many factors to consider when determining whether to file a wage lawsuit under state law, federal law, or both, and whether to file in state or federal court, each case needs to be evaluated individually by competent and experienced lawyers.
If you believe your employer has improperly recorded the hours you have worked or has failed to pay proper overtime, call our experienced team of overtime pay lawyers today at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your rights. 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.