McDonald’s hit with class action

McDonald’s hit with class action

07 December 2021 By Lauren Croft

Hundreds of thousands of McDonald’s staff have brought a class action against the fast-food giant for failing to provide adequate paid rest breaks, in what is being described as a “systematic failure”.

McDonalds has been accused of not providing staff with enough paid rest breaks for the duration of their shifts – some of which are over nine hours long. The joint investigation has revealed that workers Australia-wide have not been receiving their 10-minute rest break entitlements under both the McDonald’s Australian Enterprise Agreement 2013 and the Fast Food Industry Award 2010

Under these, staff are entitled to a paid 10-minute break for shifts lasting between four and nine hours, as well as two paid 10-minute breaks for shifts nine hours or longer.  

The investigation, launched by Shine Lawyers and the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU), follows a decision by the Federal Court in August 2020 that found that former McDonald’s employee Chiara Staines was not provided with paid 10-minute rest breaks when working shifts four hours or longer. Ms Staines was awarded the value of her lost rest breaks in addition to compensation for loss of amenity.

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In September, the RAFFWU estimated that at least 250,000 McDonald’s staff were denied the breaks they were legally entitled to since 2015.

Shine Lawyers class actions practice leader Vicky Antzoulatos said that since the launch of the class action investigation, the firm had been inundated with inquiries from short-changed staff.  

“What we are alleging is a systemic failure across the McDonald’s network. This class action has hit a nerve for thousands of staff, both past and present, who have been victims of the workplace breaches we allege,” she said.

“We are dealing with a class of vulnerable workers, mostly minors, who it appears were systematically not provided with their entitled rest breaks. 

“Remarkably, many worked in extreme heat and other onerous conditions for hours on end and couldn’t access the toilet or a drink. This conduct has in many instances affected the physical and mental well-being of the workers, and the class action seeks to hold McDonald’s to account.”

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Filed in the Federal Court, the class action is open to any current and former McDonald’s workers who worked at any corporate-owned McDonald’s from December 2015, and any franchised McDonalds from September 2017.

RAFFWU secretary, Josh Cullinan, added that these vulnerable, often school-aged workers are entitled to fair compensation.

“The blatant disregard shown to workers by Maccas is breathtaking. We encourage every eligible worker to get involved. They deserve full and fair compensation for what Maccas did to them,” he said.

McDonald’s hit with class action
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