The owners of 16 McDonald's restaurants say a lawsuit filed by a northeastern Pennsylvania woman who's challenging their decision to pay employees with debit cards has no merit.
The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens' Voice reports attorneys for Albert and Carol Mueller, whose company owns 16 regional McDonald's restaurants, say the payroll cards “are the functional equivalent of cash or checks.” They say employees consented to the payment method.
The company has filed its response to a class-action suit initiated by attorneys for Natalie Gunshannon. The 27-year-old Dallas Township single mother briefly worked at the Shavertown McDonald's earlier this year.
Gunshannon says she was charged $1.50 to withdraw cash from the card and $1 to check her balance.
The company says Gunshannon does not have standing because she never was actually paid with a debit card and never incurred any fee.
Changes have already been made to how current employees are paid. Workers at the 16 McDonald's restaurants will be given the option of getting paid via direct deposit or paper check, company spokeswoman Christina Mueller-Curran said last month. They'll also continue to have the ability to use payroll cards.
"We wanted to take swift action,'' Mueller-Curran said. "Our employees have always been our No. 1 priority.''
The company introduced the payroll card about 18 months ago because many of its 800 employees did not have bank accounts, and were being charged to cash checks, Mueller-Curran said.
"We didn't hear any complaints. Many employees have been using these cards without complaint for many months. When it became apparent there were some employees who may want the choice, we're going to give them the choice,'' she said.
Gunshannon said that when she complained about the fees on her payroll card, she was told there were no other payment options.
Many employers are trying to save on the expense of issuing paper checks by turning to direct deposit or payroll debit cards. Depending on the fees they charge, payroll cards can be beneficial for people who do not have bank accounts. But opponents say cards with high fees mean that some workers are essentially making less than minimum wage.
Nearly 4 million U.S. households, or 3.2 percent, have someone receiving wages on a payroll card, according to a 2011 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company.