Child labor rife at southeast US McDonald's with 300 minors found: DOL
10-year-old children are found working at McDonald’s until 2 am, in violation of US federal labor law.
The US Department of Labor (DOL) fined three McDonald's franchisees following an investigation that discovered that hundreds of children -- including two 10-year-olds -- were working there in violation of federal labor law.
According to a news release from the Labor Department, the inquiry was part of the Wage and Hour Division's efforts to stop child labor abuses in the Southeast.
A US investigation found McDonald’s forced 10-year-olds to work until 2am— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) May 3, 2023
They were among 305 children employed by McDonald's franchises in 62 locations across Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio
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Investigators discovered that Bauer Food LLC, a McDonald's franchisee operator based in Louisville, Kentucky, illegally employed two 10-year-olds to work at one of its locations -- unpaid -- and as late as 2 am. One of the kids was even given permission to operate a deep fryer, a task that requires workers to be at least 16 years old.
“Below the minimum age for employment, they prepared and distributed food orders, cleaned the store, worked at the drive-thru window, and operated a register,” the Labor Department said.
It is worth noting that under Kentucky's child labor laws, minors younger than 14 years old are not allowed to work.
Louisville, Kentucky, Wage and Hour Division district director Karen Garnett-Civils said in a statement, “Too often, employers fail to follow the child labor laws that protect young workers.”
“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,” he further stated.
In Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, and Ohio, the three franchisees—Bauer Food LLC, Archways Richwood LLC, and Bell Restaurant Group I LLC—operate a total of 62 McDonald's restaurants.
Concurrently, Bauer Food claimed that the 10-year-olds were not working at the company, but were night managers' kids who were visiting them at work.
Bauer Food stated that the policy governing children seeing their parents at work had been handled claiming that the management did not approve of the child being in that area of the restaurant. The company also added that it has made it clear to its employees that this behavior is against policy.
Meanwhile, the investigation came to the conclusion that among the three franchisees, 305 minors were employed.
The Department of Labor fined the three McDonald's franchisees $212,544 in civil money penalties.
According to a news release from the DOL, the Wage and Hour Division found that approximately 700 kids were working unlawfully in hazardous jobs in the fiscal year 2022, which was the highest annual tally since 2011.
A 15-year-old was injured last year while operating a deep fryer at a McDonald's in Morristown, Tennessee, the Labor Department reported.
According to the DOL, the franchisee, Faris Enterprises of TN LLC, was fined more than $3,000 in March.
In February, 13 McDonald’s branches in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were found by a federal investigation to have violated child labor laws involving 101 employees who are minors, under the age of 18.
At the time, the owners of Santonastasso Enterprises LLC, John and Kathleen Santonastasso who run the McDonald's franchises, paid a penalty fee of $57,332 assessed by the Wage and Hour Division. The Department found child labor violations from 2017 to 2021 in more than 4,000 cases that exposed 13,000 minor-aged employees working in violation.
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