McDonald’s Wage Class Action Settlement Gets Tentative OK

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A federal judge preliminarily approved a class action settlement between a McDonald’s franchisee and more than 100 current and former employees for California labor law violations.
The $235,000 settlement should net each class member roughly $150, according to a motion to approve it. All current and future employees will also be paid overtime premiums, and franchise owner Bobby Haynes agreed to review payroll records and pay an additional one hour’s wages to each employee for every day he or she was not allowed meal or rest breaks.
Cashiers Guadalupe Salazar, Genoveva Lopez and Judith Zarate sued McDonald’s and Haynes in March 2014, claiming they were denied meal and rest breaks and that McDonald’s miscalculated their wages through a flawed computerized payroll system.
The Haynes Partnership has owned eight franchises in Oakland and San Leandro since 2010.
Ruling on McDonald’s motion for summary judgment in August 2016, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg noted that the Haynes Partnership controlled hiring, firing, discipline, wage-setting and working conditions, and that McDonald’s was not a joint employer because it did not make direct personnel decisions.
The workers then tried to proceed on an “ostensible agency” theory, whereby a franchisee can be believed by the employee to be acting on behalf of the parent company.
But in January, Seeborg denied class certification, finding insufficient evidence to show a common set of circumstances classwide. The class has appealed that ruling to the Ninth Circuit.
Ruling from the bench Thursday, Seeborg said he would approve the settlement, but denied Haynes’ request to keep employees’ contact information away from the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
The settlement requires that Haynes turn over a putative class list.
“The Haynes’ position is their business decision to settle is not carte blanche for plaintiffs’ counsel to engage in a fishing expedition and an attempt to contact Haynes’ employees,” Haynes Partnership’s attorney Katarzyna Nowak told Seeborg. “Employees have a right to be left alone free of contact from plaintiffs’ counsel.”
Seeborg rejected that, saying he did not believe the plaintiffs’ attorneys would misuse the information. “I’m going to leave the status quo,” he said.

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