April 24, 2024

McDonald’s locations fined for allowing minors work too many hours

Separate owners of McDonald’s locations in Louisiana and Texas have been fined a combined $77,500 for letting minors work more hours than federal guidelines allow.

CLB Investments has been fined $56,106 after federal investigations found that it allowed 14- and 15-year-old employees at its 12 McDonald’s locations in the New Orleans area to work longer and later hours than permitted by law, the U.S. Department of Labor said. Three of those teenagers were also allowed to operate deep fryers, a hazardous task legally prohibited for workers under 16, the labor department added. Chris Bardell of La Place, Louisiana, owns CLB Investments, business records show

“Since learning of these violations, I’ve introduced mandatory child labor law trainings for my restaurant managers and conducted regular audits to ensure we’re in compliance with labor regulations,” Bardell told the Associated Press.

Laws restricting the number of hours and times of day minors can work were enacted to ensure teenagers’ safety in the workplace and that they still have enough time to focus on school, said Betty Campbell, a labor department regional administrator in Dallas. 

“While learning new skills in the workforce is an important part of growing up, an employer’s first obligation is to make sure minor-aged children are protected from potential workplace hazards,” Campbell said in a statement Tuesday. 

The labor department said 14- and 15-year-olds in Texas also worked longer hours at four McDonald’s locations owned by Marwen & Son LLC. Ten minors on staff were allowed to operate a deep fryer, oven and use a trash compactor — all federal violations. Marwen & Son — owned by Martin Washington of Cedar Park was fined $21,466.

Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. 


Investigations uncover child labor at companies in U.S.

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The labor department didn’t specify how many extra hours teens had been working in those restaurants. Still, the Louisiana and Texas violations add to the labor department’s announcement of similar infractions roughly two months ago at McDonald’s locations near Kentucky. Three separate franchisees, which were fined $212,544 in all, employed 305 minors to work longer hours at 62 restaurants across Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland and Ohio, the department said. Investigators also determined that Bauer Food LLC, a Louisville-based operator, illegally employed two 10-year-old children without pay to prepare food, clean the store and work at the cash register, sometimes working as late as 2 a.m. One of the underaged children was also allowed to operate the deep fryer, investigators found.

To be clear, McDonald’s franchisees operate with some degree of autonomy from corporate-owned restaurants. A McDonald’s executive said Tuesday that the company is aware of the violations at some locations. 

“We take this issue seriously and are committed to ensuring our franchisees have the resources they need to maintain compliance with all U.S. labor laws,” McDonald’s USA Chief People Officer Tiffanie Boyd told the Associated Press.

Intense scrutiny of child labor violations

The McDonald’s violations come at a time when child labor laws have drawn more scrutiny as federal lawmakers are looking to crackdown on companies that abuse child labor laws. Labor department officials said they found 3,876 violations across all U.S. employers last year, up more than 60% from 2018. 

At the same time, other lawmakers are moving to loosen child labor protections. Some states, including Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri, have legislation underway that would increase the number of hours teenagers could work. Representatives in those states argue that teenagers already stay out late for school athletics, so longer work hours is no different and could even help teens explore potential careers. 

The Biden administration in April urged U.S. meat companies to make sure they aren’t using child labor, after an investigation found more than 100 kids working overnight for a third-party company that cleans slaughterhouses, handling dangerous equipment, like skull-splitters and bone saws. 

More recent incidents include the accidental death of a 16-year-old boy while on the job as a sanitation worker at a poultry plant in Mississippi. In Wisconsin, a 16-year-old boy was killed in an accident at a sawmill after getting pinned down while attempting to unjam a wood-stacking machine.

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