Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, visited a McDonald's restaurant in East Oakland Tuesday to join workers who are accusing the fast-food chain of illegally depriving their employees of some of their wages.

Lee said she participated in Tuesday's action at the McDonald's at 2520 E. 12th St. in the wake of lawsuits that were filed in California and two other states last week accusing the chain and some of its franchisees of "wage theft" for allegedly not paying workers for all of the hours they work and depriving them of meal breaks, rest Lee said the Oakland protest was one of many protests held at McDonald's restaurants around the country today.

"I am proud to join workers in the fight against income equality and wage theft in Oakland and across the nation," Lee said.

She said, "Working families need equal protection of labor laws and as chair of the Democratic Whip's Task Force on Poverty, Income

Inequality, and Opportunity, and as a co-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus' Poverty and the Economy Task Force, I will continue to fight to ensure that hardworking Americans are earning and receiving fair wages."

San Francisco attorney Matthew Murray said the lawsuits filed in California, Michigan and New York accuse McDonald's of forcing employees to work when they're not punched in show that their time cards reflect less time than the total hours they actually worked.

Murray said the suits are seeking back pay for the wages the employees should have received and an order requiring McDonald's to comply with labor laws.

Murray said three of the lawsuits in California were filed in

Alameda County and one was filed in Los Angeles.

Murray said McDonald's isn't the only fast-food chain that's suspected of not paying employees for all the hours they work but the suits were filed against McDonald's because "they're ready to go since the evidence we have makes us confident that we'll succeed."

He said, "This seems to be a systematic problem that's not limited to McDonald's" and attorneys will continue to investigate other fast-food chains.

In a statement, McDonald's said, "We are currently reviewing the allegations in the lawsuits. McDonald's and our independent owner-operators are each committed to undertaking a comprehensive investigation of the allegations and will take any necessary actions as they apply to our

respective organizations."

The company added, "McDonald's and our operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all the people who work in McDonald's restaurants."

Rhonesha Victor, a 24-year-old Oakland woman who works at a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant in Oakland, said she joined the protest at the McDonald's on East 12th Street today because "wage theft has been going on at fast-food restaurants for years but no one has had the courage to speak up about it because they're afraid they will be let go."

Victor said, "I hope the lawsuit is successful so that workers can get their money back and companies will realize that what they're doing is wrong."

Victor said she only makes $9.25 an hour and has a hard time supporting herself and taking care of her disabled parents, with whom she lives.

She said, "I don't want to be on public assistance" but she sometimes has to go to a local food bank so that she and her parents have enough food to eat.

"It's definitely hard," Victor said.



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