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Class action victory for McDonald’s workers in wages claim

  • The Federal Court of Australia and the Full Court of the Federal Court have delivered two judgments affecting the McDonald’s class action which seeks compensation for unpaid rest breaks on behalf of hundreds of thousands of McDonald’s workers.

  • On 13 February 2023 the SDA filed and served an application seeking orders that Shine Lawyers’ McDonald’s Class Action be stayed.

  • The hearing of the stay application took place on 9 March 2023 in Melbourne.

  • Today, Lee J ruled that the SDA’s application to stay Shine’s class action be dismissed allowing it to go ahead.

  • The next case management hearing will be listed in 21 days.

  • The action is funded by Court House Capital.

The Federal Court has ruled that Shine Lawyers’ class action against McDonald’s can continue.

A similar action was launched by the SDA, who subsequently filed a stay application on 13 February 2023 to prevent Shine Lawyers from seeing through their claim in which close to 20,000 group members are registered and hundreds of thousands are likely to be eligible to join.

The hearing of the stay application took place on 9 March 2023 in Melbourne.

In his judgment, delivered today, Lee J ruled that Shine’s class action will go ahead. His Honour said:

“11]… the SDA’s proposal for resolving issues involved an unwieldly hotch-potch of different actions without the manifold procedural benefits of a class action.”

He summarised by calling the approach of the SDA in bringing forward the claims of Workers as “suboptimal,” stating that it "has been characterised by significant and inadequately explained delay.

“I do not consider there has been any relevant dilatoriness by the class action applicants and their approach has been forensically explicable.”

The next case management hearing will be listed in 21 days.

In a related but separate hearing the Full Court of the Federal Court considered and has now affirmed that the Federal Court has power to order that a portion of settlement monies be paid to the litigation funder, Court House Capital, supporting the action, upon approval of any settlement – a so called “Settlement Common Fund Order”. 

The hearing before the Full Court took place on 6 March 2023 in Melbourne.

“The Court found that the class action was an appropriate vehicle for the continuation of the compensation claims of group members” said Shine Lawyers joint head of class actions, Vicky Antzoulatos

“We now look forward to progressing the class action for the thousands of group members we represent,”.

“We’re privileged to have the opportunity to continue to fight on behalf of these workers, many of whom were teenagers when they were allegedly not given the rest breaks to which they were entitled, she said.

The class action brought on behalf of McDonald’s workers who were not given a paid 10-minute break when working a shift of four hours or more, alleges McDonald’s operated a system of work which denied workers their right to paid breaks in breach of the EBA and the Award.

This class action follows a judgment delivered in the case of Retail and Fast Food Workers’ Union Incorporated v Tantex Holdings Pty Ltd on 31 August 2020. In that case, the Federal Court found that a McDonald’s franchisee breached the EBA by failing to provide the applicant, a McDonald’s worker, paid breaks for shifts of four or more hours. The judgment makes it clear that in addition to paid rest breaks, McDonald’s workers are also entitled to drink water or use the toilet outside of their scheduled breaks.

Current or former McDonald’s employees who believe they are eligible to join the class action, can register here: McDonald’s Breaks Class Action | Shine Lawyers

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