Plaintiffs say fee-laced debit card was only option to receive pay

Last updated: August 27. 2013 9:03AM - 1279 Views
BILL O’BOYLE boboyle@timesleader.com

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WILKES-BARRE — Attorneys for five plaintiffs in the class-action suit filed against a Clarks Summit McDonald’s franchisee filed an amendment Monday in Luzerne County Court claiming a fee-laced debit card was the only available option for the employees to receive their pay.

According to attorney Michael Cefalo, of West Pittston, the amendment was filed on behalf of Natalie Gunshannon, the original plaintiff, and Alisha Siciliano, Cassie Staretz, Samantha Lynn Earley and Justin Eck.

Defendants are Albert and Carol Mueller, trading as McDonald’s. Cefalo said the class-action suit was filed on behalf of all current and former McDonald’s hourly employees who were paid through a debit card issued through JP Morgan Chase. The suit claims no other form of payroll payment was offered.

According to the suit:

Gunshannon, of Dallas, declined use of the debit card and quit her $7.44 per hour job because she felt the fees charged to get her wages would bring her below the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25.

Siciliano, a swing manager, claims she was denied an alternative method of payment other than the debit card and she was never give instructions on how to withdraw her wages without incurring fees. As a manager, Siciliano said she was not given instructions on how to explain to employees the ways to withdraw wages without incurring fees.

Staretz, Earley and Eck claim they were not given payroll options, nor were they ever given instructions on how to use the debit card without incurring fees.

“These employees were told there was a ‘one-time’ way of getting their money out without incurring fees, but they were never told how,” Cefalo said. “We filed the amendment to demonstrate to these people that there is no way to withdraw your money without incurring fees.”

Cefalo said when the employees inquired how to get their money out without incurring fees, they were told to “figure it out.” He said the employees were told the payroll system would not allow alternative methods of payment.

Not long after the lawsuit was filed, the Muellers announced that employees would be given other ways to receive their wages other than the debit cards. They could choose paper checks or direct deposit.

“And never were they provided information on how to use the debit cards without incurring fees,” Cefalo said.

The Muellers have 700 employees in their 16 stores.

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