Cook County Record

Thursday, December 12, 2019

McDonald’s, franchisees colluded to not recruit or hire each other's employees, federal lawsuit claims


By Karen Kidd | Sep 3, 2019

MorgueFile - xenia

CHICAGO – McDonald’s has yet to respond to a putative class action antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court earlier this month by a former longtime employee alleging illegal hiring practices and anti-competitive practices.

The lawsuit filed Aug. 15 in U.S. District Court for Illinois' Northern District alleges violations of the Sherman Act and claims McDonald's Corporation and its franchisees engaged in a "no-solicitation and no-hiring contract, combination, or conspiracy" to not to recruit or hire each other's employees.

McDonald's "was intimately involved in forming, monitoring, and enforcing this anti-competitive contract, combination, or conspiracy," Stephanie Turner said in the lawsuit on behalf of herself and other members of the class. "McDonald’s orchestrated, dispersed, and enforced the agreement among itself and all franchisees, at least in part, through an explicit contractual prohibition contained in standard McDonald’s franchise agreements."

The standard agreement between McDonald’s and the franchisees was in force "at least up until sometime in 2017," the lawsuit said.

"The practice at issue reflects a naked horizontal restraint of competition in the form of a market allocation agreement, a category of restraint long held to be per se unlawful under the antitrust laws," the lawsuit said. "The agreement was not reasonably necessary to, and did not contribute to the success of, any legitimate pro-competitive benefit or joint venture, nor did it promote enterprise or productivity when it was adopted or at any time since."

Turner said she and other class members suffered depressed wages, benefits "and diminished opportunities as a result of the unlawful agreement."

Turner worked for McDonald's restaurants in Ohio and Kentucky in various positions for about 15 years, according to the lawsuit.

The case is assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Charles P. Kocoras.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Turner and putative class members by attorneys Derek Y. Brandt, Leigh M. Perica, Richard D. McCune and Michele M. Verkoski, of the firm of McCune Wright Arevalo LLP, with offices in Edwardsville and Ontario, Calif.; and attorneys from the firms of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, of San Francisco; and Scott+Scott Attorneys at Law, of San Diego and New York.  

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