WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- A single mother who worked briefly at a northeastern Pennsylvania McDonald's franchise is suing the owners after she said she was given a fee-laden debit card and told that she must use it to access her earnings.
A lawyer filed a lawsuit Thursday in Luzerne County on behalf of Natalie Gunshannon and other employees, The Citizens' Voice and the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre reported.
"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 and worked for a month before quitting. She was given her first paycheck and, along with it, the debit card. She said she did not sign the debit card or enroll in the payroll system because she believed the fees would reduce her future earnings to below minimum wage.
According to the lawsuit, the J.P. Morgan Chase payroll card carries fees for numerous transactions. They include 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.
State law entitles employees to choose to be paid by options including check or cash, said the lawyer, Mike Cefalo.
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 to the Times Leader, the Muellers said they value their employees and want to provide the best possible work environment for them.
State officials have endorsed payroll cards as a legal form of wage payment, according to the American Payroll Association, the Citizens' Voice reported.
But in a 2008 letter to the trade association, 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.