Skimmed & Scammed:
WAGE THEFT FROM CALIFORNIA’S FAST FOOD WORKERS

Skimmed & Scammed:
WAGE THEFT FROM CALIFORNIA’S FAST FOOD WORKERS

Maria Bernal calculates that she was cheated out of more than $150,000 over a nine-year period.

After her husband was deported, it was up to Maria to support her kids with her salary from Jack in the Box, where she has worked for 10 years. Maria’s employer regularly required her to work crushing 14-hour shifts with no breaks while only paying her for eight hours, forcing her to work more than a third of her hours for free to avoid paying overtime. Quitting did not feel like an option. She could not afford to lose even one day’s pay, nor did she think she could find better treatment elsewhere in the industry.

What Maria Bernal has experienced for all these years is wage theft – the failure of employers to pay workers the full wages to which they are legally entitled. Wage theft is the costliest crime in the country, with $15 billion in wages lost per year, stolen from the most vulnerable workers in society. That total is higher than losses from car thefts, burglaries and all other larcenies combined

 

The fast food industry can thrive without cheating its workers. Fast food giants like McDonald’s make billions in profit every year – they can afford to make sure that front line employees are paid what they are owed.

Her Jack in the Box employer made it clear that it would not change the terms of Maria’s employment and she tried to make up for it by working harder. She took on a second job to survive.

California’s fast-food industry is one of the largest, fastest growing private sector employers in the state. The global fast-food corporations that operate in California make billions of dollars in profits, yet fast-food workers rank among California’s lowest paid large occupational groups.]Over the course of the pandemic, fast-food workers emerged as an essential workforce, helping to feed communities and fuel local economies across the state.

As our new survey finds, however, these fast food workers – employed by some of the world’s largest, most profitable brands – face rampant wage theft by their employers.

 

 

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