Workers at 3 Conn. McDonald's awarded $870,541 in back wages

DARIEN, Conn. (AP) — More than 260 workers at three McDonald's restaurants located at I-95 service plazas in Connecticut have begun receiving $870,541 in back wages following a wage rate investigation by the state Department of Labor.

But some of the employees, who held a rally on Thursday at the service plaza in Darien, contend it's only partial vindication.

“I believe the store managers used the pandemic as an excuse to get rid of my entire night shift, which had some of the most experienced workers in the store, just because we demanded fair treatment,” former employee Rosa Franco said in a statement. Franco worked at the Darien northbound McDonald’s for 13 years until she was laid off in March.

Franco and other service plaza workers have complained about a lack of paid sick time, proper training and protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Connecticut Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby announced Wednesday that his agency's Division of Wage and Workplace Standards recovered and paid $870,541 in owed wages to 264 employees of restaurants in Fairfield and Darien. All three restaurants are owned by Michell Enterprises LLC of New Canaan, which also paid $35,800 in civil penalties.

A message seeking comment was left with a Michell Enterprises executive.

The labor department conducted a nearly year-long investigation which determined the owner violated state law requiring standard wage rates for certain service workers. Checks ranging from $13.73 to $12,496.28 have been distributed to the workers.