McDonald’s, Franchisees in Germany Wage Dispute

McDonald’s Corp.’s German unit is engaged in a dispute with several franchise holders who accuse the world’s largest hamburger chain of using aggressive tactics to try to force them out of their contracts.

Court records show McDonald’s hired a team of private detectives to dig up evidence of conflicts of interest against one of the franchisees. In other instances, at least five franchisees say, McDonald’s offered corporate jobs to franchise employees in exchange for information needed to terminate franchise holders’ contracts or ordered its personnel auditors to collect evidence against them.

The restaurant operators say these methods are part of a broad campaign by McDonald’s in Germany, one of the company’s biggest markets, to reclaim stores held by franchisees and to slow unit growth in a country saturated with fast-food outlets, an allegation McDonald’s denies.

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