According to claims made by McDonald’s workers, the restaurant chain assessed all hours assigned in an overnight shift to the day in which the shift began. However, workers who had a day shift following an overnight shift frequently worked in excess of eight hours during a 24 hour period but were not compensated for their overtime.
According to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann Jones, McDonald’s had violated state labor law and failed to pay overtime to thousands of workers represented in the class action lawsuit, as a result of its policy on overnight shifts. However, in her latest ruling, it was determined that the workers failed to prove that the unpaid overtime violations were intentional. That the company intentionally set its time parameters and internal time-keeping around a cycle that started at 4:00 a.m. instead of 12:01 a.m. wasn’t enough to show that its overtime violations were also intentional, Judge Jones deteremined.
The wage and hour violations class action lawsuit was filed by named plaintiff Maria Sanchez in January 2013. A year later, David Cruz, Ines Mendez Merino and Jonathan Valentin joined the suit, alleging that managers had adjusted time records to erase some employee hours worked, failed to provide overtime, disallowed meal breaks during busy periods, and required unpaid work before and after shifts such as washing uniforms.
The complaint states that McDonald’s operates about 100 corporate-owned restaurants in California. The complaint alleges that the fast food chain has a policy of requiring its restaurants to limit labor costs to a specific percentage of gross sales. This means that in order to keep costs down and fall in line with this policy, restaurant managers violate state labor.
Attorneys representing the workers will continue to pursue injunctive relief, as the company is still following the same practice, and file objections within the 10-day period set before the tentative ruling becomes final. Further, the attorneys state that Judge Jones’ finding that McDonald’s classwide violations weren’t “willful” even though the company intentionally kept a practice of assigning all time to the date the shift started rather than the date performed, is not the legal standard in California. Additionally, the court’s decision to calculate damages based on the 4 a.m. workday doesn’t take into account the judge’s earlier ruling that the company unlawfully failed to have a consistent 24-hour workday for calculating overtime, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs.
The case is Maria Sanchez et al. v. McDonald’s Restaurants of California Inc. et al., case number BC499888, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.