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Foreign Worker Hoopla Forces McDonald’s Franchisee Out

CNNMoney (03/14/13) Emily Jane Fox

McDonald’s has cut ties with a Pennsylvania franchisee embroiled in a controversy over a temporary work program that employed foreign students. Andy Cheung, the owner of three McDonald’s restaurants in the Harrisburg, PA, area came under fire recently after 15 international students demonstrated outside one of the restaurants and filed complaints with the U.S. State Department and U.S. Department of Labor saying they were exploited and forced to live in cramped quarters. The students came to the U.S. under the State Department’s Summer Work Travel Program.

The students said they were forced to share living space with several others in homes owned by Cheung or his son and that they were either given so few hours that they earned hardly any money after their boss deducted rent from their paychecks, or that they were forced to work shifts as long as 25 hours straight without being paid overtime. “We take the well-being of the employees working in McDonald’s restaurants seriously. We began investigating the situation in Pennsylvania immediately upon learning of the issues involved,” a McDonald’s spokeswoman said. The franchisee “has agreed to leave the McDonald’s system,” and McDonald’s is working on contacting the workers “to most effectively address this situation,” she said.