Chipotle agrees to pay $322,000 to settle alleged child-labor violations in D.C.

The District said it will use the funds to support apprenticeship and job training programs for youths.
Past accusations led D.C. officials to investigate Chipotle's labor practices. | Photo: Shutterstock

Chipotle Mexican Grill has agreed to pay the District of Columbia $322,400 and adjust the training and onboarding processes of its 20 Washington units to resolve accusations that it violated local child labor laws.

The agreement followed an investigation begun by District Attorney General Brian Schwalb in May 2022. The AG’s office said it founds hundreds of violations but indicated that most involved scheduling a minor for later or longer hours than the youngsters are allowed to work.

The officials acknowledged that they began the probe because Chipotle had been accused in other states of mis-scheduling and otherwise violating the rules governing employment of high-school-aged youths, and not because of complaints it had received.

According to Chipotle, the infractions allegedly occurred as far back as 2020. In addition to paying the money specified in the settlement, the burrito chain has “implemented an enhanced labor scheduling program in our restaurants, creating a more efficient, consistent and compliant environment,” Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s chief corporate affairs officer, said in a statement.

In addition, the chain has agreed to update the labor compliance training it provides to the general managers and supervisors who oversee Chipotle stores within the District.

“We are committed to ensuring that our restaurants are in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations and we believe that in hiring workers beginning at age 16, we can provide younger employees with valuable experiences and an opportunity for advancement,” Schalow said.

Schwalb has drawn fire from the local restaurant community for his response to the widespread adoption of service fees, a reaction to the tip credit changes that have raised the payroll expenses of full-service independent establishments in particular. Local operators have groused that Washington officials provided too little compliance information and virtually no initial explanation of the charges to consumers.

The attorney general’s office said it will use Chipotle’s settlement payment to fund apprenticeship workplace training programs.

Restaurants have been frequently sanctioned in recent months, largely by federal rather than state or county authorities, for violating child-labor laws. The U.S. Department of Justice has said it is focusing a crackdown on the business because the industry often provides youngsters under age 16 with their first job and violations of scheduling regulations are common.

The District of Columbia’s laws prohibit workers under age 16 from working past 10 p.m. on a night preceding a school day. They also are forbidden to work more than eight hours on any given day, nor more than six days or 48 hours per week.

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