In the first major settlement since Minneapolis changed its minimum wage laws, a McDonald’s franchise has agreed to pay $20,000 in back wages and penalties for underpaying its workers.
A city Department of Civil Rights investigation earlier this year found the 210 E. Lake St. McDonald’s paid dozens of its employees less than the $10 minimum that went into effect in January.
In addition to the payments, the fast-food restaurant will participate in training with civil rights staff. Managers and owners will attend a roundtable discussion focused on “creating a safe space for all to discuss workplace concerns,” according to the city.
“People are so excited,” said Taylor Shevey, an organizer for Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), a group that supports fast-food and retail workers campaigning for better pay. “People have been waiting months for this back pay.”
Last year, the Minneapolis City Council passed a series of ordinances designed to protect low-wage workers, including scaling up the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024. As of January, the minimum pay at large employers went up to $10. It increased to $11.25 this month for large businesses and $10.25 for smaller ones.
After several workers complained about being underpaid at the McDonald’s earlier this year, city investigators found the fast-food restaurant had shorted dozens of employees since the new law went into effect. Some were missing just a few dollars, others much more.
“This was an inadvertent error that was immediately corrected and we’ve worked with the city to address this matter,” said Connie Williams, owner of the McDonald’s franchise.
Parrish Jones, a 25-year-old who’s worked at McDonald’s for two years, is expecting double back pay for 37 hours of lost wages this year.
“My job is everything to me,” Jones said. “It’s a happy environment. I just want to know that I’m getting paid for everything.”
Steven Suffridge, a janitor who has worked at the McDonald’s for four years and is also getting back pay, said the settlement inspired “happy tears.” He called it a symbolic win for workers’ rights, and a message that employers who underpay will be held responsible.
“This, to me, is a big victory,” he said. “This to me just goes to show that when push comes to shove, when people come together, things get done. When we fight, we win.”
Suffridge said he was pleased to see McDonald’s started paying him $11.25 per hour in July in accordance with the minimum bumping up.
“This is about the happiest time of my life, because I’ve never made over 11 bucks in my entire life,” he said.