McDonalds Student Guestworkers File Federal Complaints


After exposing severe exploitation at McDonalds restaurants, J-1 student guestworkers filed complaints with the Department of State (DOS) and Department of Labor (DOL), detailing labor abuse by McDonalds franchise owner Andy Cheung and labor supplier GeoVisions. The complaints to the DOL Wage & Hour Division and DOS office responsible for the J-1 student guestworker program detail sub-minimum wage pay, wage theft, overpriced substandard housing, and retaliation against students to suppress lawful complaints.
The student guestworkers, from Argentina, Peru, Chile, Malaysia, and other countries, paid $3,000 apiece to participate in the State Department’s J-1 student guestworker program, expecting decent work and a cultural exchange. Instead, McDonald’s used them as a sub-minimum wage exploitable workforce. Students faced:
· As few as four hours of work a week at $7.25 an hour, with exorbitant housing deductions that brought their net pay far below minimum wage
· Shifts as long as 25 hours with no overtime pay
· Being packed into employer-owned basement housing, up to eight students to a room, for $300 each per month
· Threats to cut hours further and surprise home visits from the employer and McDonald’s labor recruiter to suppress complaints

The labor abuse at McDonald’s comes after the revelation of similar exploitation against J-1 student guestworkers at a Hershey’s Chocolate packing plant in Pennsylvania in 2011, which reached the front page of the New York Times. It also comes as Congress is considering a massive expansion of guestworker programs as part of national immigration reform.

Official complaints online at:

posted by Anna Nguyen

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