McDonald's Sued Over Paying Workers With Fee-Laden Debit Cards

In a handful of cities, some fast-food workers have protested in recent months, agitating to have their pay nearly doubled to $15 an hour. But Natalie Gunshannon wasn't one of them. A McDonald's worker at Shavertown, Pa., just 24 miles from Scranton, she says that she initiated a class-action lawsuit against the McDonald's franchise for a simple reason: "I am looking for the pay I am owed."

Hired on April 24, Gunshannon discovered that the Shavertown McDonald's franchise pays workers only with JPMorgan Chase debit cards -- and requires workers to cover the debit fees, according to a report by, a local news outlet.

Gunshannon reportedly was to be paid $7.44 per hour, a little more than the minimum wage. But as the reports, the payroll card had several fees, including $1.50 for ATM withdrawals, $5 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals, $1 per balance inquiry, 75 cents per online bill payment and $15 for lost or stolen card.

More: McDonald's Server On Strike: 'We Worry About Going Hungry'

Gunshannon asked the franchise owner's office if she could be paid by check or direct deposit, and was told no. So the 27-year-old single mother of one refused to sign the debit card, quit and contacted a lawyer, who filed a class-action suit on Thursday. "I can't afford to lose even a few dollars per paycheck," Gunshannon told the local paper. The franchisee owns 17 McDonald's franchises, according to reports.

Mike Cefalo, her attorney, told the TimesLeader that the franchise's action was another case of "corporate greed" and a violation of state law, which, he said, gives workers the choice to be paid by check or cash. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary and punitive damages.

A spokeswoman for the franchise told news organizations that it hadn't seen a copy of the suit yet, but stressed "we value our employees" and "we are committed to providing them the best possible work environment." [UPDATE June 21, 2013, 7:30 am: McDonald's corporate spokesperson released a statement, stressing that franchisees are "independent," making "their own decisions around employment matters. McDonald's requires all franchisees to operate their businesses in accordance with all local, state and federal laws."]

According to ADP, a well-known payroll processor, payroll debit cards can benefit workers who don't have bank accounts. "If you don't have a bank account you must often rely on the expensive check cashing stores," ADP says in its literature, adding debit cards are more secure than carrying "large amounts of cash, which can be subject to loss or theft."

In 2012, the Consumers Union and National Consumer Law Center created guidelines for using these payroll debit cards. Top on their list: "Employees must be able to access their full wages, at least once each pay period, without cost."

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Rocky Naomi

Gunshannon asked the franchise owner's office if she could be paid by check or direct deposit, and was told no ( NO ) So she HAD A CHECKING ACCOUNT. Gloria fails to realize that by not using the counter ( just using direct deposit or ATMs ) it waves the monthly fees and makes a checking account 100% FREE. not EVERYONE WHO IS A MINIMUM WAGE WORKER IS relying on check city to cash there earnings. Paying with a pre paid card IS AGAINST STATE LAW and deserving of a lawsuit to rectify the situation.

June 28 2013 at 6:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

My last employer had McDonald's as one of their major clients so I was regularly in their stores checking on our equipment. From my experience, McDonalds has to be the single largest employer of illegal immigrants in this country. I say this because it was COMMON to walk into a store and not find a single person that spoke English and I rather doubt that the US is that generous with visas. This was in all corners of the country too. The numbers are so high that I would bet serious money that there is a backdoor program by corporate that gets these people false papers so it all looks legit. I say this not because of any racism but because McDonald's loves these people because with their lack of education, desperate circumstances and I would assume indebtedness to McD's, they are fabulously easy to exploit.
McDonald's and Walmart are evil corporations that should be shut down. In their demise we would go back to the old way--mom and pop stores that delivered quality food and products that paid their employees a living wage.
Can anyone honestly say they would miss getting the worst food on the planet?---and please don't give me the BS about burgers and product prices going thru the roof. There are companies that do this and their prices are on a level with McD's. Why? Because they are not funneling every penny up to executives and stockholders. McD's has had obscene profits it's entire existence because of this.

June 27 2013 at 2:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was reading some time ago about a book written about the credit card companies. The author found that many of the 'mistaken' charges and fees that you are sometimes charged are actually very intentional because through long analysis these companies can sneak in little gouging like this across the board and 85% of people will either not notice or be too timid to complain. Even the 15% that do complain will be satisfied with just getting their money back. Only an infinitesimally small percentage would delve by lawsuit to see if this is institutional fraud and even THOSE can be placated by settling out of court--which still leaves them a hefty profit from those 85% that paid.
This is the same damn thing! My last employer had McDonald's as their major client (we sold restaurant equipment). I went to these stores regularly. MOST of the employees speak little to no English. Even the ones that do have little understanding of their rights or whether getting nailed by fees is justified. Education levels are low. THIS DOES NOT, I repeat, DOES NOT MEAN IT IS OKAY TO PREY UPON THEM!!!! This is no innocent policy. This is a calculated effort to deprive poor people of what little they have.
I was taught that it was the duty of the strong to protect the weak. People that prey upon them, taking advantage of their poverty, lack of literacy and education, and intelligence are SCUM that should not be allowed freedom. They should be in prison.

June 27 2013 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just when I thought McDonalds could not sink any lower... Corporations would gladly bring back slavery if they could. 'After all, they get to enjoy air conditioning and exercise for 8 hours a day, they should pay US!' And then there is the standard conservative refrain, 'if you don't like it you can go somewhere else'---no, that is not true, because you jerks have so rigged the system that EVERY job is like this. There is NOWHERE else to go if you don't like it, even if you had the cash and transportation to do so.

June 27 2013 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Typical! All employers seem obsessed with finding ways to rip off their own employees. They've always got some scheme, like hiring only part time workers to avoid having to pay health insurance benefits, or requiring the use the company's OWN banking services. It's almost impossible to find an employer who will pay it's workers with a paper check. They all insist on Direct Deposit, or Pay by Debit Card. I wonder how many of these schemes allow employers to get access to their workers' banking activities? They already feel that they have the right to read private emails, and search up your private internet activities prior to even CONSIDERING you for employment! This needs to stop!

June 25 2013 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wayne McCarthy

I find comments from people like troobador very misleading and ill informed. As an employee of McDonalds, I appreciate McDonalds given me not only job but a opportunity to work my way up through one of the top 10 (if not top 5) corporations in the world. Idk what you are talking in the aspect of food but I suggest actually researching. A Big Mac, Fries, and soda together has less calories then a subway footling meatball sandwich. But back to the issue of this story, I think it is unfair to attack McDonalds as this a franchisee..but we also don't know all the facts. I personally think this is a BS lawsuit trying to take advantage of a organization at the expense of other workers. No one else filed a lawsuit do must not be that bad. If this franchisee has to pay a lot of money for this lawsuit, what so you think could possibly happen to his McDonalds? All I'm saying is this is probably a biased article that manipulates the facts

June 22 2013 at 11:59 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Wayne McCarthy's comment

There has probably not been other lawsuits because they don't want to lose their jobs! Many people also don't want the trouble of dealing with the court system. Easier to just hunker down and take it.

June 27 2013 at 1:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

960 calories for Meatball sub that weighs 598 grams. Big mac has 530 calories for a 211 gram sandwich. Medium fries are 340 calories for 111 grams and a medium coke is 200. That's over 1000 calories. I assume you used small sizes to fit your argument, but no one orders small. Either way, you need to match sandwich for sandwich. You can't compare a foot long to a Big Mac. Comparing a six inch is more realistic and a 6" has fewer calroies. If you were to eat the same amount of food as a foot long, you would need to eat 3 big macs. That's 1590 calories. Your argument is busted.

September 02 2014 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I cannot believe the number of people who have commented in favor of McDondald's. This is one of the nastiest companies gout there. They push dangerous food on people and spend hundreds of millions to promote their crap. Their thinly veiled PR attempts become more insincere and ridiculous all the time. I am a small business owner. I pay my employees much better than McDonalds. If I can afford to do it, McDonalds can afford to do it. It is disgusting that McDonalds continues to exploit the working poor., How anyone can support this corporate greed is beyond me. The idiots here who say employees should be thankful they have a job at McDonalds, are in essence saying "Hey, yoiu should be happy you are being mis-treated and yoiur dignity slammed so a corporation can squeeze more profit. Just shut up and be a slave". I notice our Republican friends in Congress are pushing a bill to do away with minimum wage. I am sure you will all love to go to work for 2-dollars an hour. Corporate America has changed since the 80's. Now its just a non stop game of screw the worker,

June 22 2013 at 10:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to troobador's comment

Agree wholeheartedly! The standard conservative refrain is 'if you don't like it you can go somewhere else'. Never mind the fact that they have so rigged the system that just about every job is like this (when I hear, 'we offer 'competitive' wages I always cringe). Never mind that most of these people are so poor that they have no cash to move somewhere else so they have to take what work is closest. Never mind the fact that most of these companies are running double digit percentage profits. I was taught that the strong protected the weak. That is why we form societies. When the strong prey upon the weak that is a hallmark of anarchy.

June 27 2013 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is becoming old, and inflated news with facts being left our or embellished.. In the initial reports she stated she received her paycheck along with the card, but refused to sign the forms to activate the card, therefore she Was- Paid by check. As part of the Patriot Act you cannot set up an account for another person without them signing for it especially if they are going to use it as a direct pay where they transfer into her account it must be set up by her signature, these are not simple "gift card" types of plastic.. If a person has no checking account and uses a "check cashing service" in my area it is around 10-15% of the check or if under $300 a flat $5 fee so in this instance a card can actually be cheaper. If you are given the card one .75 transfer to an account would transfer the funds into an account. Or one ATM withdrawal for $1.50 for the entire amount in cash. This is a tempest in a teapot. While I don't agree that a company should make the card the only option, Some workers would find it cheaper than a check cashing service or the $7.50 monthly bank account fee and the ATM fees the bank charges. I don't see where this is at all "suit" worthy. This is a single mother who quit a job to become unemployed after less than a month so she could win "unspecified monetary and punitive damages". Sure beats working.

June 22 2013 at 9:28 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mavis's comment

I agree. I doubt very much of McDonalds' actually pays its workers enough to warrant a lawsuit. This gal is either out for publicity, or hoping to make some big bucks from milking a lawsuit. My husband uses one of those check cashing places, and the fees vary, as does the amount of his paycheck. When he gets a good paycheck, with holiday pay or overtime, the check cashing place grabs it's share by the fistful! When he gets a lower check, the fee is like $5.00 or $10.00. The problem is, I'm disabled and can't work, so all we have is my husband's pay. Even $5.00 or $10.00 out of his pay hurts. It means that's $5.00 or $10.00 that we won't have for groceries, food for our dogs, money that my husband could use for bus fare to and from work (His bus fare runs him $8.00 a day!), utility bills, postage stamps, co-pays on my prescriptions, etc. Ask a senior, living on Social Security about having $5.00 or $10.00 less to live on for that month. It probably means they'll either go a couple of days without food, or have to get by with a bowl of Ramen Noodles or some generic boxed dinner that tastes more like cardboard than anything else! You can look at this story both ways. It may be the "Tempest In A teapot" as you call it, or the lady may be justified in complaining. Working for McDonald's, she'll earn about $7.57 for a crew member, $7.72 for a cashier, and $8.82 for a Fry Cook. So I don't think it's like;y she'll need to worry about walking around with a large sum of money in her pocket. And someone who gets by on bare minimum wages certainly doesn't have much use for a bank account, which often charges customers outrageous fees. My Sister-in-Law will be charged $9.00 a DAY for an overdraft fee. And, each and every time her overdrafts are the result of her bank withdrawing funds from her account, when she had a zero or near zero balance! That kind of nonsense ought to be illegal! How can you justify taking money from a customer's account (for some sort of maintenance fee) when there is NO MONEY IN THE ACCOUNT IN THE FIRST PLACE? And, then, have the balls to charge you an overdraft fee! After taking money that she didn't have in the first place, they ten charge her a $35.00 overdraft fee, PLUS $9.00 EACH AND EVERY DAY until she makes a deposit to cover the overdraft that THEY, THE BANK caused. By the way, this is Dollar Bank we're talking about here. Dollar Bank that is SUPPOSED to have FREE CHECKING. However, that checking account is free only if you maintain a certain balance - which the bank uses to make investments and become even richer then they already are, and pay million dollar bonuses to its board members! This kind of thing is why my husband and I closed our bank accounts and started using a pre-paid debit card. We pay all of our bills electronically, and avoid the fees.

June 25 2013 at 11:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry, that doesn't fly. It's patently obvious this was a money-making scheme. Why would they not offer her the option of direct deposit? She was NOT being paid the money she was owed because even to access her money or even do a balance inquiry she had to pay a fee, which meant she was getting less than what she is owed. She was absolutely right to sue and very brave to do so. I hope she drives the company into bankruptcy. This country was 10 times better before Walmart and McDonalds came on the scene.

June 27 2013 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Be thankful you have that job. As lilttle as it pays, the city I live in is so destitute that every time people hear McD's is hiring they are enundated with job seekers. Oddly all we see at our local McD's are hispanics. Hmmm

June 22 2013 at 6:16 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to AOL WHITE VOICES's comment
You Sexy Beast!!

I worked for an employer last Christmas holiday season, and they use cards as well. You have the option of getting paychecks, but they would be delivered several days after payday, and the final paycheck at the end of the season was available ONLY on the card. I found the way to get the least amount of fees was to transfer it to my personal bank account...making only the one transfer limited my fees, I believe to $1 per pay period.

June 22 2013 at 4:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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