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McDonald's workers claim they were fired for union activities

McDonald's locations in New York are being accused of terminating multiple employees for allegedly being involved in union activity by a worker group. The National Labor Relations Board is now investigating whether the employees were fired for an illegal reason, namely for attempting to join labor unions.

The Fast Food Workers Committee filed charges related to incidents that stem from incidents between November 2012 and April 2014 involving nine employees who were fired. Due to the high number of franchise owners of the popular fast food chain, the case may have implications for small business owners across the region. A president of a franchise association says that an adverse ruling against the parent company could raise costs for restaurant chains. He also said that some business owners could also lose control of their operations.

Other allegations in the lawsuit are that employees were suspended, their hours were cut and they were threatened with termination for being involved in union activities. The alleged incidents occurred in various New York City boroughs. The National Labor Relations Board might hold McDonald's responsible as a joint employer, and the company might have to police franchises to personally deter similar infractions from occurring in the future. However, a worker-advocacy-group counselor said that McDonald's has more sway over the franchises than it claims because it is able to control most variables involved in running the establishments. The allegations are being made in the wake of national protests and strikes that are highlighting the low wages for the large chain.

Individuals who believe that they have been terminated for an illegal reason may decide to pursue legal action. Through lawsuits filed in civil court, they may be able to recover lost wages and other damages caused by their termination.

Source: Bloomberg, "Workers Say McDonald’s Fired Them for Union Activity", Leslie Patton, July 18, 2014

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