Restaurant Workers Cry Widespread Wage Theft in Fast Food Industry

Originally Published : May 30, 2013

Following strikes and work stoppages in April of this year, fast food workers held a press conference on May 16, 2013, to call attention to a recent report detailing “wage theft” in their industry. The report claims that of the 500 New York City fast food employees surveyed for the report, 84% reported experiencing some form of “wage theft” at their places of employment.

“Wage theft” mostly commonly includes:

  • Employees working without pay before or after their shift;
  • Employees working overtime without being paid time-and-a-half;
  • Employees working during their breaks or not receiving breaks;
  • Delivery employees not being reimbursed for expenses like gasoline or safety equipment.

The fast food worker association has been actively protesting against many large fast food chains and franchises in New York City, demanding an end to wage theft, a raise in the minimum wage $15 an hour, as well as rights to form and organize unions without fear of intimidation or retaliation.

The New York Attorney’ General’s office is also looking into purported wage and labor violations – the AG’s office issued a press release on May 16 stating that several large fast food corporations were being investigated and that subpoena’s had been issued to the (undisclosed) parent companies of many fast food franchises operating in New York City.

While the report and fast food worker association is primarily focused on large chain and franchise fast food restaurants, ensuring compliance with all state and federal labor and wage laws is a critical issue for all restaurants regardless of size. Complaints of wage and labor violations are common within the restaurant and service industry and ongoing monitoring and updating of a restaurant’s wage and labor procedures are important to maintaining compliance with fair practices, standards and laws.

Sources: The Nation 1The Nation 2