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I-Team: Payroll Lawsuit

A Luzerne County woman has filed a class action lawsuit against the owners of more than a dozen McDonald's restaurants.<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; She claims she is being forced to pay fees to access her pay.<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The controversy centers on debit cards given to employees of the restaurants to access their pay.<br>The I-Team's Andy Mehalshick has the story.<br>
Natalie Gunshannon and her attorney insist that she is being unfairly charged fees -- connected to that pay card--or debit card-- to receive her pay without being given any other option. The owners of the McDonald's restaurants  say they are complying with state and federal laws..
Natalie Gunshannon of Dallas Township worked at the McDonald's Restaurant in Shavertown for about three weeks.   She said she was disturbed when she received her first pay in the form of a debit card, sometimes called a payroll card..

 "When I received the debit card took it home they said you have to activate it to receive your next pay check. I took it home opened it before I activated it it came with a sheet with all the fees going over fees that were twice what my credit union would have charged me." said Natalie Gunshannon.

Gunshannon says she contacted attorney Mike Cefalo of West Pittston with her questions..

 "It was upsetting. I just couldn't see paying all the fees. But when I asked my manager for a different way of pay they told me to activate the card or we can't pay you so i didn't get paid." said Gunshannon.

Attorney Cefalo filed a lawsuit in  Luzerne County Court last week claiming the owners violated state law by allegedly paying their employees with a debit card that includes fees .Cefalo says state law requires that businesses pay employees in cash or bank check..

 "They could have done a number of things. Number one direct deposit that would have been the easiest. Number two paid by check and number three debit card and make arrangements with bank to either absorb the fees or not charge them or Mcdonald's absorbs the fees." said Attorney Mike Cefalo.

The owners of the McDonalds in Shavertown: Albert and Carol Mueller issued this statement..

 
"Rest assured we take allegations like these and matters regarding our employees ,seriously. As owners of this long standing family-run business, we currently operate several McDonald's restaurants in Northeastern Pennsylvania."
   "For decades our family has proudly supported and contributed to communities where we do business and will continue to do so.   We strive to comply with all laws related to employment and pay and work hard to provide a positive work experience for all our employees."
   "We have many employees who have been with us a long time and are proud to work with our organization.  Beyond that it would be inappropriate to further comment. However, we strongly caution people from jumping to conclusions without all the facts."
    Eyewitness News contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry in Harrisburg about the lawsuit.   Officials there did not want to comment specificaly on the lawsuit but did comment on the use of debit cards to pay employees..
     "State laws regarding  debit cards for payment to  employees are still undeveloped and in some cases debit cards can be considered as a check. We handle each situation on a case by case basis."
    
  The I-Team's Andy Mehalshick spoke to officials  of the American Payroll Association which represents tens of thousands of businesses nationwide..they too did not want to comment on lawsuit but say  that each state sets up its own parameters regarding debit card or payroll cards..they too say laws around the country are still evolving
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