McDonald’s Agrees to Pay $26 Million to Resolve Wage Theft Lawsuit in California

Largest ever wage theft settlement against McDonald’s also includes extensive injunctive relief

On March 4, 2020, the L.A. Superior Court granted preliminary approval to a pathbreaking class action settlement in Maria Sanchez, et al. v. McDonald’s Restaurants of California, Inc., et al., that provides $26 million and comprehensive injunctive relief to approximately 38,000 employees of McDonald’s corporate-owned restaurants throughout California. 

Although the trial court had awarded only $55,000 in back wages after trial plus $770,000 in civil penalties, with no injunctive relief, Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys were able to turn the case around while the case was pending on appeal, and negotiated a settlement that requires McDonald’s to:

  • Pay $26 million plus all costs of settlement administration and notice;
  • Create a mechanism for paying the one-hour wage premium required by California law to all crew members for each day McDonald’s fails to provide them a legally compliant, timely meal period or rest break;
  • Permit crew members to leave the restaurants during their meal periods, including on overnight shifts, without restriction or threat of discipline;
  • Maintain detailed electronic time records that accurately track the time and duration of each meal period and rest break;
  • Provide additional uniforms to crew members whenever their McDonald’s uniforms become stained, greasy or worn out;
  • No longer make workers take rest breaks at the start or end of their shifts rather than as close as practicable to the middle of those shifts; and
  • Provide extensive training to managers and crew members about the changes required by the settlement agreement.

These provisions resolve each of the legal claims alleged in plaintiffs’ class action complaint, which was filed in 2013. 

Under the settlement-approval schedule ordered by the Superior Court, class notice will be distributed to class members on April 15, 2020, and a final approval hearing is scheduled for August 6, 2020. 

Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys Michael Rubin, B.J. Chisholm, Matthew Murray, and Amanda Lynch are class counsel, along with co-counsel from Matern Law Group, PC and Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll PLLC.