Worse for Workers Than McDonald’s: Subway

Photo (cc) by trekkyandy

It’s official: When it comes to fast-food companies underpaying their employees, Subway “wins,” hands down.

According to a CNN Money analysis of Department of Labor data, Subway franchises were found to be in violation of wage and hour rules in more than 1,100 investigations conducted between 2000 and 2013. CNN Money said:

Each investigation can lead to multiple violations and fines. Combined, these cases found about 17,000 Fair Labor Standards Act violations and resulted in franchisees having to reimburse Subway workers more than $3.8 million over the years.

Violations included forcing employees to deduct time for a 30-minute lunch break that they didn’t take, deducting employees’ wages to cover a cash register shortage, not paying time and a half for overtime, and requiring workers to pay for their company uniform. That qualifies as a violation if deducting the uniform expense pushes the employee’s hourly rate below minimum wage, CNN Money said.

After Subway, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts are the next most frequent wage violators in the fast-food industry.

CNN Money noted that labor law violation lawsuits are on the rise in the U.S., and it seems likely that the fast-food industry could find itself targeted.

President Obama’s push for a higher minimum wage and expanded overtime pay are increasing awareness about [Fair Labor Standards Act] laws among workers, said Brett Bartlett, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw who has represented companies in more than 100 wage and hour cases and even written a book on the subject.

“All of this chatter around minimum wage, overtime and these franchise issues is educating everybody about the laws,” he said. “We’re going to see an uptick in these cases.”

It appears that Subway is making efforts to comply with wage and hour rules. The sandwich-making chain has invited the Department of Labor to speak at meetings and write articles for the company newsletter.

These kinds of violations disgust me. Most of the workers falling victim to the wage and hour violations are minimum-wage employees. Forcing them to buy their own company uniform and not paying them for the hours they work is shameful.

What are your thoughts about the violations? You can comment below or on our Facebook page.

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