McDonald’s: Wage Theft

Protests have been breaking out in McDonald’s restaurants all over the United States over issues regarding owed overtime wages.  More than 20 protests have taken place in over 30 United States cities, mostly in New York, California, and Michigan.  McDonald’s is currently facing multiple class-action lawsuits over wage theft.  These lawsuits state that employees are being forced to work through breaks, or off the clock.  There is evidence that some workers are being paid lower than the hourly federal minimum set by the state.

Earlier this week one owner of McDonald’s franchises, Cisneros, entered a settlement of $500, 000 after requiring employers to launder their uniforms without paying them to do so.   Employees decided to take action because of the news of this settlement. The McDonald’s protests encouraged a larger group of employees from other fast-food chains to share their troubles with wage theft.

With these protests comes the news of the creation of an anonymous hotline where fast-food employees can report theft of their pay or abuse from their employers.   McDonald’s has responded to these protests by stating that they will investigate these allegations.

Here is a photo of the protest in New York:

Although allegations of fraud and theft are coming from employees of many different fast-food chains, McDonald’s is definitely in a state of crisis.

It has been one week since this crisis and McDonald’s has yet to officially respond to the protests or the allegations, and that is their first huge mistake.  According to Zaremba, the foundation of crisis communication includes avoiding denial and admitting the wrongdoing. Although some of these cases involve specific franchise owners, not the company as a whole, McDonald’s is still responsible for their employees’ wellbeing and should take a more active role in the recovery of their wages.

As you can see from the above photo of the protest, protestors have taken McDonald’s slogan “I’m Lovin’ It” and created signs that say: “Labour Abuse, Not Lovin’ It”.  This is an example of advertising turned against a company in the form of a “meme”.

I think that McDonald’s should create a media kit that addresses the allegations and admits that some fraudulent behaviour has occurred. They should detail a full plan on how to ensure that their franchises are regulated.  They should also plan to give money back to their employees and create a strong workplace where everyone is valued.


Zaremba, Alan Jay. Crisis Communication: Theory and Practice. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2010. Print.


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