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McDonald's, Walmart and Other Companies Guilty of Wage Abuse Against People with Disabilities

  • Synopsis: Published: 2013-07-20 (Revised/Updated 2013-11-15) - Article looks at low wages associated with working at some major corporations in America - Disabled World.
Minimum Wage
Minimum Wage - The U.S. federal minimum wage provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Many American states also have minimum wage laws. Some state laws provide greater employee protections; employers must comply with both. It is illegal to pay an employee less than the minimum wage. Equal pay provisions prohibit sex-based wage differentials between men and women employed in the same establishment who perform jobs requiring equal effort, skill, and responsibility. These provisions are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Main Document

Quote: "When we witness how badly McDonald's and Walmart and other companies treat those who are closest to us who work for them, it certainly does not leave a positive impression."

The fact that many people with disabilities work at places such as McDonald's and Walmart to supplement SSDI incomes is unquestioned. The Social Security Administration permits people who experience forms of disabilities who are on the SSDI program to earn a certain amount of money through employment each month. Corporations such as McDonald's and Walmart regularly hire people with disabilities.

One of the questions concerning employment at places such as McDonald's remains the pay associated with working for them. As a corporation, it benefits McDonald's to hire workers for the least amount per hour it possibly can in order to increase its profits; doing so only makes good business sense. The question surrounding at what point low wages become a violation of human rights or dignity is plainly very low on the ladder where corporations such as McDonald's are concerned.

For example, the average worker at McDonald's might make $8.25 per hour. For McDonald's, this wage is apparently a, 'fair,' one. Another good business practice for this corporation is to hire people for hours that are less than full-time, meaning the average worker at McDonald's will not find themselves working 40 hours a week. The reason McDonald's does this is because full-time workers get benefits. The fewer workers a corporation has working full-time, the fewer benefits it has to pay for.

For a worker at McDonald's, getting 34 hours a week is a wonderful thing. The hours they work however may or may not be regular. At $8.25 per hour with a 34 hour schedule and no benefits, such a worker would earn $280.50 a week before taxes or $1,122 a month. Imagine attempting to live on this wage and a minor SSDI check. By comparison, the year 2012 found McDonald's CEO Don Thompson receiving a compensation package worth $13.8 million dollars, or around $1,166,666 dollars each month.

Despite the very clear gap in income between the average worker at McDonald's, who may be a person with disabilities struggling to survive on such an income, and the CEO of McDonald's - continued greed is not beyond the business sensibilities of the McDonald's corporation. A woman in the state of Pennsylvania who worked for McDonald's went in to work to get her very first paycheck, only to discover that instead of being paid with a check or in cash she was handed a prepaid Chase debit card; she was very greatly displeased to say the least.

McDonald's Chase Debit Card Wage Fees She asked her employer about the debit card because it has fees associated with using it. Her McDonald's employer told her that she had no option but to accept it. The fees associated with using the Chase debit card her employer paid her with include:

  • $1.00 for each balance inquiry
  • $1.50 for each ATM withdrawal
  • $0.75 for each online bill payment
  • $5.00 for each over-the-counter cash withdrawal

When she asked her boss about the card she was told it was the only option. She took her issue to the franchisees, who she says confirmed that she had no choice but to take the card.

The woman quit her job and pursued legal assistance through an attorney, who filed a class-action lawsuit on the behalf of the woman and other McDonald's employees. The woman is a single mother who could not possibly afford to support her children on an income from working for McDonald's alone. The plaintiffs in the case have stated that the Chase debit card they were paid with permits McDonald's to earn, 'Ill-gotten gains contrary to justice, equity, good conscience and Pennsylvania law.' It seems that the relentless pursuit of greed finds McDonald's in court.

For people with disabilities who work for McDonald's, things such as wages that no one can survive on, a lack of adequate benefits, and hours that are inconsistent have highly negative consequences. If a person with disabilities does not make enough money to afford things such as medications, adequate food, clothing, shelter, or to pay for utilities "the line has been crossed between, 'good business practices,' and human rights and dignity violation. Unfortunately, McDonald's is not alone in regard to abusive wages, benefits and inconsistent hours practices.

Walmart Poverty Jobs

Walmart suggested wage increaseThe average worker for a Walmart store makes $8.81 an hour, which translates to an annual pay of $15,576 based upon Walmart's notion of full-time employment being 34 hours per week. The amount such a worker earns is notably below the 2010 Federal Poverty Level of $22,050 for a family of four. According to a report from 2011, if Walmart were to begin paying a $12 per hour minimum wage its workers who currently make less than $9 per hour could earn $3,250 to $6,500 more each year before taxes. If Walmart passed the cost of this along to shoppers at their stores, the average shopper would only pay a mere $0.46 cents more each time they shopped.

In other words, Walmart could significantly raise the wages it pays its workers without affecting its, 'low prices,' one bit. People who are chronically underpaid around America would benefit. Yet according to a report by UC Berkeley, Walmart workers earn 14.5% less than other workers in large retail corporations, despite the fact that the cost of living continues to rise.

If Walmart stores were to raise its workers pay to a minimum of 12$ per hour it would cost the company $3.2 billion dollars, which is a great deal of money unless the company you are talking about is Walmart. For Walmart, that amount is a mere 1% of its annual sales of $305 billion dollars. If Walmart chose to pass along the cost of increasing worker wages to its customers, it would cost those customers less than the price of a common candy bar per shopping trip.

The fact of the matter is that Walmart would not even have to pass along the cost to customers. Walmart has exceptional energy-saving plans. The company might choose instead to take some of the money it will save from materials and energy efficiency and use it to raise worker's wages, give them schedules that are consistent, or enough hours to reach what is considered to be full-time by Walmart.

The Walmart corporation has stated the national average hourly wage for its full-time workers is already $12.40 per hour, yet declines to state what the wage is for part-time workers. With the understanding that people with disabilities who work and are on the SSDI program most often work part-time, the question concerning the wage they earn per hour remains. For Walmart CEO Mike Duke there is no question, he received $18.7 million dollars in compensation in the year 2010, an amount that is 1,201 times the yearly income of an average worker for Walmart.

The Abuse of Workers with Disabilities

Corporations such as McDonald's and Walmart obviously have little concern for the well-being of their workers. It is also clear these corporations have immense concern for their profit margins. The workers these corporations hire struggle to make ends meet and often times find themselves unable to, yet companies like McDonald's and Walmart continue to present themselves as being consumer-friendly.

The reality of the matter is that companies like McDonald's and Walmart are staffed by those who are most important to us in the world - our family members, loved ones and friends. People with Disabilities are America's largest minority population and are a part of families and friendships across this nation. When we witness how badly McDonald's and Walmart and other companies treat those who are closest to us who work for them, it certainly does not leave a positive impression.

The time has come for a, 'living wage,' and the end of the concept of the, 'minimum-wage.' Workers in America must earn enough money to live on, not a wage dictated by the government or a corporation. A living wage would be closer to $15 dollars per hour in America today.

McDonald's $8.25 Man and $8.75 Million CEO Shows Pay Gap
www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-12/mcdonald-s-8-25-man-and-8-75-million-ceo-shows-pay-gap.html

The pay gap separating fast-food workers from their chief executive officers is growing at each of those companies. The disparity has doubled at McDonald's Corp. in the last 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At the same time, the company helped pay for lobbying against minimum-wage increases and sought to quash the kind of unionization efforts that erupted recently on the streets of Chicago and New York.

How McDonald's workers CAN'T live on their minimum wages
www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2366370/Sample-budget-given-McDonalds-workers-proves-CANT-live-minimum-wages-need-second-job-make-ends-meet.html

The sample budget also sets aside only $20 for health care and $150 for car payments. The financial planning tool, however, does not include allowances for either food or gas.

Some Walmart workers want better wages, affordable benefits
usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/retail/story/2012-06-05/walmart-workers-air-complaints/55450634/1

Sparks, who is considered full time, usually works 34-36 hours a week. She says the week described above was the first time in months she was scheduled to work 40 hours.

Related Information:

  1. Earning Less Than Minimum Wage at Goodwill - Goodwill Industries is reported as paying some of its employees with disabilities less than minimum wage - Wendy Taormina-Weiss - Jun 12, 2012
  2. Recession Will Cost Baby Boomers Up To $40,000 in Benefits - Unprecedented Economic Factors Will Lead to Rare Drop in Initial Social Security Benefits and Reduce Lifetime Earnings - The Senior Citizens League - Dec 16, 2010
  3. Medicaid Pays Nursing Homes Less Than Minimum Wage - Nursing home providers are often forced to rely on funding from other sources primarily Medicare to fill the funding gaps resulting from inadequate Medicaid payments - American Health Care Association - Jan 15, 2011


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