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Media Release | Mammoth Legal Action Lodged against McDonald’s operators

Compensation is being sought for over 250,000 current and former McDonald’s workers across Australia as part of the SDA’s latest legal action against McDonald’s.

Following almost 2 years of investigating exploitation and Award contraventions across the fast food chain, the SDA has lodged a mega Federal Court Claim against 323 McDonald’s operators – and the fast food giant itself – over the alleged denial of paid rest breaks at nearly 1000 current and former McDonald’s sites.

This new claim is in conjunction with the SDA’s 15 existing Federal Court claims against McDonald’s Australia and 14 franchisees.

Under the Fast Food Award, all McDonald’s workers are entitled to an uninterrupted 10-minute break when working 4 hours or more.

The SDA is alleging that not only were McDonald’s workers not informed of their rest break entitlements, they were also told breaks could be exchanged for a free soft drink or going to the toilet.

The SDA is seeking thousands of dollars in compensation for workers who did not receive their legal break entitlements and asking the Court to award penalties against the 400 employers who have operated McDonald’s sites in the past 6 years.

As a conservative estimate, the SDA is seeking $250 million in compensation plus penalties.

This new claim is one of the biggest of its kind in Australian history, with over 1.8% of working Australians captured by the claim.

The SDA is alleging that the denial of paid rest breaks and exploitation was systematic and deliberate and that McDonald’s Australia aided and abetted franchisees in this practice.

In April 2022, the SDA also commenced a nationwide investigation into McDonald’s Managers’ conditions of work, in particular claims of wage theft and breaks denial.

Over 10,000 workers have already gotten directly involved in the SDA’s investigations. Anyone who has worked at McDonald’s in the past 6 years can get involved by visiting

Quotes attributable to SDA Secretary Gerard Dwyer:

“The SDA has sought to fix this issue with McDonald’s and they’ve refused to resolve it, let alone admit any wrongdoing.”

“As one of the largest employers of young people in Australia, McDonald’s shouldn’t have to be dragged through the Federal Court for workers to receive their most basic entitlements.”

“Across their restaurants, McDonald’s demands consistency. They make sure each restaurant can put two beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. It’s simply not believable that these breaks weren’t denied on purpose.”

“Just because McDonald’s is a multinational, multi-billion-dollar fast food behemoth doesn’t mean they can pick and choose which laws to follow.”

“McDonald’s has the capacity and a responsibility to ensure they’re giving workers all of their entitlements.”

“These Federal Court Claims are not just about compensation and penalising McDonald’s, it’s about sending a clear message that this systematic exploitation of young workers will not be tolerated.”

“We won’t stop calling out these exploitative behaviours until McDonald’s cleans up their act and compensates workers.”

Media Contact: Jim Middleton – 0418 627 066