McDonald's franchisees fined $200k over child labor violations

The U.S. Department of Labor fined the three operators for violations involving more than 300 minors, including two children of a manager who were 10 years old.
McDonald's franchisees fined
Three McDonald's franchisees were fined over child labor law violations. / Photo courtesy of McDonald's.

The U.S. Department of Labor this week said it fined a trio of McDonald’s franchisees more than $200,000 over child labor violations involving more than 300 children.

Federal regulators said that Bauer Food, which operates 10 locations in the Louisville area, employed 24 minors who worked more than legally permitted.

That included two 10-year-olds who were employed but not paid and sometimes worked until 2 a.m. One of them was allowed to work the deep fryer.

Overall, the three operators were cited for violations involving 305 children and were fined $212,544. “Under no circumstances should there ever be a 10-year-old child working in a fast-food kitchen around hot grills, ovens and deep fryers,” Karen Garnett-Civils, the department’s Wage and Hour Division district director, said in a statement.

The franchisee in the case, however, said that the two 10-year-olds were children of a night manager visiting their parent at work. The company didn’t approve the children to be in the restaurant and any work done was also without authorization.

Bauer Food said it has taken steps to ensure that policies about children visiting a parent at work is clear to the workers.

“These reports are unacceptable, deeply troubling and run afoul of the high expectations we have for the entire McDonald’s brand,” Tiffanie Boyd, SVP and chief people officer for McDonald’s USA, said in a statement. “It is not lost on us the significant responsibility we carry to ensure a positive and safe experience for everyone under the Arches.”

Federal regulators have been citing more companies for child labor violations in recent months, including several instances involving restaurant chains this year. Child labor law violations are up 69% since 2018, a likely sign of pressure on operators following last year’s labor shortage.

The three McDonald’s franchisees cited this week together operate 62 locations in Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland and Ohio. The vast majority of the violations involved 14- and 15-year-olds.

Bauer Food was fined $39,711 for the violations involving 24 children, most of whom worked longer than the law permits.

Another operator, the 27-unit Archways Richwood, apparently allowed 242 14- and 15-year-olds to work longer than permitted. That operator was fined $143,566.

A third, Bell Restaurant Group, was fined $29,267 for allowing 39 underage workers to work longer than permitted. Investigators also cited the company for $14,730 in back wages and liquidated damages for failure to pay overtime.

Federal child labor laws say that workers younger than 16 cannot work during school hours and no more than three hours on a school day and no more than eight hours on a non-school day. They cannot work longer than 18 hours per week on a school week and 40 hours during a non-school week. And they can work no later than 7 p.m. on a school night, though that is extended to 9 p.m. during the summer.

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