Mammoth Legal Action Lodged against McDonald’s operators
Compensation is being sought for over 250,000 current and former McDonald’s workers across Australia as part of the SDA’s latest legal action against McDonald’s.
Following almost 2 years of investigating exploitation and Award contraventions across the fast food chain, the SDA has lodged a mega Federal Court Claim against 323 McDonald’s operators - and the fast food giant itself - over the alleged denial of paid rest breaks at nearly 1000 current and former McDonald’s sites.
This new claim is in conjunction with the SDA’s 15 existing Federal Court claims against McDonald’s Australia and 14 franchisees, 2 of which are against Victorian franchisees.
The SDA estimates that in total, these claims will cover almost 65,000 workers in Victoria alone across 253 sites.
Under the Fast Food Award, all McDonald's workers are entitled to an uninterrupted 10-minute break when working 4 hours or more.
The SDA is alleging that not only were McDonald’s workers not informed of their rest break entitlements, they were also told breaks could be exchanged for a free soft drink or going to the toilet.
The SDA is seeking thousands of dollars in compensation for workers who did not receive their legal break entitlements and asking the Court to award penalties against the 338 employers who have operated McDonald’s sites in the past 6 years.
As a conservative estimate, the SDA is seeking $250 million in compensation plus penalties across the country.
This new claim is one of the biggest of its kind in Australian history, with over 1.8% of working Australians captured by the claim.
The SDA is alleging that the denial of paid rest breaks and exploitation was systematic and deliberate and that McDonald’s Australia aided and abetted franchisees in this practice.
In April 2022, the SDA also commenced a nationwide investigation into McDonald’s Managers’ conditions of work, in particular claims of wage theft and breaks denial.
Over 10,000 workers have already gotten directly involved in the SDA’s investigations. Anyone who has worked at McDonald’s in the past 6 years can get involved by visiting national.sda.com.au/maccas.
Quotes attributable to SDA Victoria Secretary, Michael Donovan:
“Nearly 65,000 current and former McDonald’s workers across the state have allegedly been denied their breaks and are owed thousands in compensation by McDonald’s.”
“It’s clear this issue is systemic and widespread across the fast food chain.”
“Just because McDonald’s is a multinational, multi-billion dollar fast food behemoth doesn’t mean they can pick and choose which laws to follow.”
“The SDA has sought to fix this issue with McDonald’s and they’ve refused to resolve it, let alone admit any wrongdoing.”
“As one of the largest employers of young people in Australia, McDonald’s shouldn’t have to be dragged through the Federal Court for workers to receive their most basic entitlements.”
“Across their restaurants, McDonald’s demands consistency and has rigorous training and procedures in place, it’s simply not believable that these breaks weren’t denied on purpose.”
“These Federal Court Claims are not just about compensation and penalising McDonald’s, it’s about sending a clear message that this systematic exploitation of young workers across Victoria will not be tolerated.”
“We won’t stop calling out these exploitative behaviours until McDonald’s cleans up their act and compensates workers.”
“Anyone who has worked at McDonald’s in the past six years and didn’t receive their rest breaks is eligible to be part of our claims and we encourage them to contact the SDA immediately.”
Elizabeth, former Department Manager from 2008-2018 at McDonald’s Melbourne Airport
"I worked at McDonald's for 10 years and I never remember receiving a paid rest break"
"When I asked about the entitlement I was told that 'you guys already stand enough' by my manager.”
“I was repeatedly told that as a manager, I didn’t get breaks. I didn’t know this wasn’t the truth.”
Rohan, former Shift Supervisor from 2008-2017 at McDonald’s Bendigo
“Receiving my paid rest break each shift would have made a huge difference at Maccas.”
“I have hypoglycaemic episodes and I once passed out at work after being denied my 10 minute break.”
“Working at McDonald’s wasn’t easy and this approach made me feel really unsafe at work.”
Damon, former Shift Supervisor from 2009-2018 at McDonald’s Sebastopol
"I worked at McDonald's for 9 years and I never remember receiving a paid rest break."
"I became aware at some point that 10 minute breaks existed but based on the culture and approach of management, I felt that there was no point in asking for them.”
Grace, former crew member from 2014-2019 at McDonald’s Traralgon Central
"I worked at McDonald's for 5 years and I never remember receiving my 10 minute breaks.
“I was told we weren’t allowed to leave our stations during “lockdown periods” even if it was to get a drink or go to the toilet.”
“I was only able to leave my station during lockdown periods if I was desperate for a drink or a toilet break and even then I felt bad like I was doing something wrong for taking a break.”