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PA Employees Receiving Payroll Debit Cards: What You Need to Know

By: Anapol Weiss

A judge ruled in June 2015 that Pennsylvania McDonald’s franchise owners Albert and Carol Mueller broke the law by paying thousands of employees with mandatory payroll debit cards that were brimming with fees.

The ruling in Luzerne County was a victory for more than 2,000 plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, which argued that the card system forced employees to pay to access their own money. But for attorney David Senoff, who serves as Co-Lead Counsel in the class action, the battle isn’t quite over yet. Senoff believes there are many more Pennsylvania employees – not just at McDonald’s – who have no choice but to receive their pay through a debit card system and deal with the fees that come with it.

“We believe other employees in Pennsylvania are being paid exclusively through a payroll debit card and are therefore paying fees to access their own earning,” Senoff said.

According to the ruling, the Muellers violated the state’s Wage Payment and Collection Act because the J.P. Morgan Chase payroll cards are not “lawful money of the United States” or a “check.” The cards that were issued to the Pennsylvania McDonald’s employees carried transaction fees including a $1.50 charge for ATM withdrawals, $5.00 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals, $1.00 to check the card’s balance, and other charges.

While some other states allow the use of debit cards for payroll, employees in many of those states have cards as an option rather than an exclusive form of payment. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania law – and the Court’s recent ruling – makes clear that there is currently no exception for employees to be paid by a payroll debit card.

Pennsylvania employees who receive payment exclusively through a debit card system are urged to contact Anapol Weiss for assistance.