By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Late on Thursday, March 21th in Recife, Pernambuco, the McDonald’s franchise Arcos Dorados was court ordered to pay R$7.5 million in compensation for collective moral damages, ending a civil action lawsuit filed against the company by the Ministry of Labor in Pernambuco.
The suit alleged that the company had violated Brazilian labor legislation by employing illegal working hours and by mandating that employees consume only McDonald’s foods at mealtimes.
The order handed down by Judge Virginia Lúcia de Sá Bahia of the 11th Labor Court of Recife, Pernambuco applies throughout the country where Arcos Dorados has 600 stores and employs an estimated 42,000 people.
Arcos Dorados is the largest Mcdonald’s franchise network in Brazil and in the world with a reported 1,880 stores in twenty countries and territories which serve an estimated 4.3 million customers per day.
The franchise, which bought the rights from McDonald’s to operate in Latin America in 2007, is known for catering to specific regional tastes, offering traditional Mexican food in Mexico and banana flavored pies and pão de queijo (cheese bread) in Brazil.
Responding to the charges of mandating employees to eat only McDonald’s food during mealtimes, Arcos Dorados stated in a press release, “We have changed the menu of meals provided to employees, according to the guidelines of the authorities of the area, with several choices of dishes balanced and developed by nutritionists.”
The company also addressed employee work hours by saying, “[Arcos Dorados] adopts legal working hours, without any violation of the labor law of its employees, with payment of minimum wages set by unions of every city in the country where it operates, but it accepts this change in procedure with technically feasible deadlines agreed to with the authorities in the area.”
Public Prosecutor of Labor, Leonardo Mendonça explained that in future, “If the network breaches any of the items formalized the agreement they will have to pay a fine of R$2,000 for each employee.”
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