Imagine if you got paid by your employer through a debit card that charges you a fee to withdraw money from an ATM or every time you check your balance.
A single mother from northeastern Pennsylvania alleges just that in a lawsuit filed against a McDonald’s franchise. The lawsuit alleges she was provided a fee-laden debit card and told that she had to use it to access her earnings.
The suit was filed Thursday in Luzerne County on behalf of Natalie Gunshannon and other employees, according to The Citizens’ Voice and the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre. They are seeking damages, fees and costs.
“I’m looking for the pay I am owed and for them to understand there has to be an option,” Gunshannon, 27, told the Citizens’ Voice.
Gunshannon was hired April 24 at the McDonald’s in Shavertown. She worked for a month before quitting.
She was given a debit card along with her first paycheck. Gunshannon said she did not sign the debit card nor enroll in the payroll system because she believed the fees would reduce her future earnings to below minimum wage.
The JPMorgan Chase debit card she was given carries fees for numerous transactions, including a $1.50 minimum charge for an ATM withdrawal, $5 for an over-the-counter cash withdrawal, $1 to check the balance, 75 cents per online bill payment and $15 to replace a lost or stolen card, the lawsuit alleges.
Pennsylvania law allows employees to choose to be paid by other means, including check or cash, said the lawyer, Mike Cefalo.
“When they work hard and earn their wages, why should they have to pay fees to collect their rightful wages?” Cefalo is quoted as saying by the Times Leader newspaper.
The lawsuit seeks damages against the franchise owners, Albert and Carol Mueller, who own 15 other McDonald’s locations throughout northeastern Pennsylvania, and accuses them of illegally padding their profits with the payroll card system. McDonald’s was not named as a defendant.
In a statement issued by their public relations coordinator, the Muellers declined to comment on the suit, stating they had not seen a copy of the complaint.
State officials have endorsed payroll cards as a legal form of wage payment, according to the American Payroll Association, the Citizens’ Voice reported.
However, the state Department of Labor and Industry advised employers to get an employee’s permission before paying wages with payroll cards or through direct deposit, the newspaper reported.
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