SHAVERTOWN – An attorney in Luzerne County says a single mother from the Back Mountain area is behind a civil class action lawsuit over the way a McDonalds franchise pays employees.
Natalie Gunshannon of Dallas told Newswatch 16 that managers refused to pay employees at the McDonalds in Shavertown with paychecks or by direct deposit, instead forcing workers to sign up for a J.P. Morgan Chase payroll debit card.
“It came with a slip about all the fees. I read it and I said ‘no, I don’t want any part of it’. There was no other option. Direct deposit was not an option. Cash was out of the question. Checks? No,” said Gunshannon. “We’re told not to use the card at the (gas) pump because if you use it at the pump, it’s a $50 hold for up to 5 days.”
Attorney Michael Cefalo filed a civil class action lawsuit in Luzerne County Court.
Cefalo believes that as many as 700 employees at 17 franchises could be impacted, by what he called a direct violation of Pennsylvania’s wage payment and collection law.
"They're taking advantage of the people who have the least ability to object. They`re looking for job, they just about got a job; they're being whacked with fees. It's kind of unconscionable. It just didn`t seem fair,” said Cefalo. “These people make minimum wage. They literally have a rough time making a living. Yet the big banks are squeezing, squeezing, squeezing.”
Exhibits in the civil lawsuit indicate that the payroll debit card charges users for ATM withdrawals, making online payments and calling to check the balance.
Franchise owners Albert and Carol Mueller of Clarks Summit released a statement about the civil lawsuit Tuesday afternoon.
“Rest assured, we take allegations like these and matters regarding our employees, seriously. As owners of this long standing family-run business, we currently operate several McDonald’s restaurants in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For decades, our family has proudly supported and contributed to communities where we do business, and will continue to do so,” the statement said. “We strive to comply with all laws related to employment and pay and work hard to provide a positive work experience for all our employees. We have many employees who have been with us a long time and are proud to work with our organization. Beyond that it would be inappropriate to further comment. However, we strongly caution people from jumping to conclusions without all the facts.”
Cefalo said he has received calls from more than a dozen employees, but Gunshannon is the only plantiff listed in the civil lawsuit.